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What is blockchain?
A blockchain is a continuously growing list of records called blocks, these blocks are linked and secured using cryptographic algorithms. Each block typically contains a hash which link to a previous block, a timestamp as well as transaction data. There are two routes to consider when creating a new blockchain a.) will it be a fork off of an existing blockchain or b.) is it going to replicate an existing blockchain and built from scratch meaning start with Genesis block-“Block # 0”.
Step 1: Identifying use cases
There are many applications to using such technology in pursuit of developing your project including:
Digital Identity: Smart contracts allow individuals to control which data to disclose about their identity or digital assets. Sensitive personal information could be securely stored on the blockchain. Rather than allowing a company to hold the information on their own infrastructure, you could simply authorize an ‘identity check’, revealing the information required for the company to verify that you are who you claim to be.
Supply Chain and Logistics: If you produce, buy or sell goods, the possibility to make each step of a supply chain more transparent may improve your business. Smart contracts allow tracking product movement from the factory to the store shelves. Advanced tracking allows reducing the risk of fraud and theft as well.
Insurance Policies: Claims process will be triggered immediately, and the financial payout can be delivered to a customer without any delays. The need of human-driven intervention is reduced which allows reducing costs.
Entertainment Industry: There’s a commonly known problem with determining who owns the rights to a particular song or any other work of art and how to guarantee that every person who is legally obliged will receive royalty payments. A smart contract solution can help tracking all ownership rights.
Currency and Digital Assets: Blockchains are able to create digital assets that tokenize utility, security, equity, assets, and reputation. Distributed cloud storage avoids the need to place faith in large centralized companies where personal data is vulnerable and pricing may escalate to cover the expanding number of data servers.
Verifiable Data and Contracts: A Blockchain can create an immutable verifiable record of any data, file, or contract. Items that are purchased could be tracked on the blockchain to demonstrate proof of ownership and to prevent the sale of stolen goods which may eventually help to reduce crime. Other uses of verifiable data include encrypted messaging, authenticated voting and more.
What is a smart contract?
Smart contracts are embedded with an if-this-then-that (IFTTT) code which are stored using blockchain technology. The blockchain eliminates the need for third parties and ensures that all ledger participants know the contract details and that the terms are carried out automatically once conditions are met.
You can use smart contracts for all sort of situations, such as financial derivatives, insurance premiums, property law, crowd funding agreements, and among other brilliant new innovations coming up rapidly.
Public vs. Private Blockchain
A private blockchain is able to be accessed by anyone. It is often incentivized for more users to join the network. To achieve consensus each node must solve a complex equation that takes a significant amount of computation power to solve.
On the contrary a private blockchain restricts the users that are able to participate. Running a private blockchain can easily, if desired, change the rules of a blockchain, revert transactions, modify balances, etc.
Step 2: Identify the Most Suitable Consensus Mechanism
Depending on the end goal there are many consensus mechanisims that can suit your program inclusing: proof of stake, Byzantine fault tolerant, Deposit based consensus, Federated Byzantine Agreement, Proof of Elapsed Time, Derived PBFT, Redundant Byzantine Fault Tolerance, Simplified Byzantine Fault Tolerance, Federated consensus, Round Robin and Delegated Proof of Stake.
Step 3: Identify the Most Suitable Platform
Some of the more popular platforms are:
BigChainDB, Chain Core, Corda, Credits, Domus Tower Blockchain, Elements Blockchain Platfor, Eris:db, Ethereum, HydraChain, Hyperledger Fabric, Hyperledger Iroha, Hyperledger Sawtooth Lake, Multichain, Openchain, Quorum, Stellar, Symbiont Assembly
Step 4: Designing the Nodes
Blockchain solutions can be permissioned (e.g. a Government run land registry) or permission-less (e.g. Bitcoin, where anyone can become a miner). Blockchain solutions can be private (e.g. a contract management system implemented in a pharmaceutical company), public (e.g. an asset backed cryptocurrency) or hybrid (e.g. a group of banks running a shared KYC platform).
Another factor to consider at this stage is whether the nodes will run on the cloud, on-premise or both. Then comes hardware configuration issues like processors, memory and disk size. You also need to decide on the base operating systems (usually Ubuntu, CentOS, Debian, Fedora, Red Hat or Windows).
Step 5: Design the Blockchain Instance
Most blockchain platforms need very careful planned configuration for the following elements:
Permissions, Asset issuance, Asset re-issuance, Atomic exchanges, Key management, Multi signatures, Parameters, Native assets, Address formats, Key formats, Block signatures, Hand-shaking
Step 6: Building the APIs
Some blockchain platforms come with pre-made APIs while some don’t. The major categories of APIs that you would need are for:
Generating key pairs and addresses
Performing audit related functions
Data authentication through digital signatures and hashes
Data storage and retrieval
Smart-asset lifecycle management –issuance, payment, exchange, escrw and retirement
Step 7: Design admin and user interface
Step 8: Adding future tech
You can greatly enhance the power of your Blockchain solution by integrating Artificial Intelligence, Biometrics, Bots, Cloud, Cognitive services, Containers, Data Analytics, Internet of Things and Machine Learning.
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