Blockchain consortiums are a relatively new concept in the field of blockchain technology, but they are quickly gaining popularity as a way for organizations to work together to develop and implement blockchain solutions. A blockchain consortium is a group of organizations that come together to jointly operate a blockchain network. These organizations typically have a common goal or set of goals related to the use of blockchain technology, and they work together to maintain and govern the network.
The use of consortium blockchains can bring many benefits to businesses. They enable the development of shared platforms for various industries that can be used for multiple purposes, such as creating a shared supply chain management system or a decentralized digital identity system. Additionally, consortium blockchains allow organizations to work together to find solutions and reduce the time and expenses of development.
What is a blockchain consortium?
A blockchain consortium is a group of organizations that come together to jointly operate a blockchain network. These organizations typically have a common goal or set of goals related to the use of blockchain technology, and they work together to maintain and govern the network. This can include setting rules and policies for the network, managing access to the network, and coordinating efforts to develop and improve the technology. Consortiums can be used for a variety of purposes, such as creating a shared supply chain management system or a decentralized digital identity system.
Blockchains that are open to the public and can be accessed by anyone with an internet connection is called public or open blockchains. On the other hand, private blockchains are typically used by businesses for specific software solutions and to address specific business needs. A third type of blockchain, known as a blockchain consortium, is a combination of public and private characteristics. It is mostly used within an enterprise or a group of organizations.
The main goal of a consortium blockchain is to increase collaboration among organizations in order to tackle industry-specific challenges. Groups with shared objectives can utilize blockchain consortiums to enhance transparency, accountability, and efficiency. According to research by Deloitte, many organizations are choosing to use consortium blockchains, with 74% of them opting for this type of network. Many blockchain platforms are also positioning themselves as a foundation for different organizational solutions.
Blockchain consortiums provide an opportunity for new members to join an existing structure and share information rather than having to create their own from scratch. This technology allows organizations to work together to find solutions and reduce the time and expenses of development. Consortium blockchains are also referred to as Federated blockchains.
Consortium blockchain architecture
Consortium blockchain architecture refers to the design and structure of a blockchain network that is operated by a group of organizations or a consortium. The architecture of a consortium blockchain typically includes several key components.
The nodes in a blockchain consortium are operated by the different members of the consortium. Each node stores a copy of the blockchain and participates in the consensus process to validate transactions and add new blocks to the chain.
The ledger is the decentralized database that stores all of the transactions that occur on the blockchain. The ledger is distributed across all of the nodes in the network and is used to track the state of the network.
The consensus mechanism is the process by which the nodes in the network agree on the state of the blockchain. Different blockchain consortiums may use different consensus mechanisms, such as proof-of-work, proof-of-stake, or a voting system.
Smart contracts are self-executing contracts with the terms of the agreement between buyer and seller being directly written into lines of code. These are used in blockchain consortium architecture to automate the process of executing transactions on the blockchain.
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Application Programming Interface (API) is the interface or set of protocols that allow different applications or systems to communicate with the blockchain. APIs can be used to build various applications on top of the blockchain and to access the data stored on the blockchain.
A consortium blockchain is typically permissioned, meaning that only authorized participants are allowed to access the network and make transactions. The access control and permissions can be configured according to the needs of the consortium.
The governance structure of a consortium blockchain is typically defined by the consortium members and can vary depending on the specific use case and goals of the network. The governance structure includes the rules and policies for the network and the mechanism for making decisions about the network.
A hybrid blockchain is a type of blockchain that combines the characteristics of both public and private blockchains. Public blockchains are open to anyone and are decentralized, while private blockchains are typically used by organizations and are centralized. A hybrid blockchain combines the benefits of both types of blockchains by allowing both public and private participants to access the network and share information.
The level of access and permission can be configured according to the needs of the participants. This means that a hybrid blockchain can be open to anyone, like a public blockchain, or can be restricted to certain participants, like a private blockchain. Hybrid blockchain is a new way of implementing blockchain technology that allows for the best of both worlds, the transparency, and immutability of a public blockchain and the privacy and control of a private blockchain.
How does a consortium blockchain work?
A consortium blockchain network is a blockchain that is managed by multiple organizations. Rather than creating their own blockchain platform from scratch, new participants can join a consortium and contribute to the management of an already established structure and shared data. By working together to address common challenges, businesses can reduce costs and speed up development time.
Lastly, coordinating actions and sharing expertise helps to prevent duplication of work by enabling different entities to share responsibilities. In a consortium blockchain, the number of known participants is limited, which results in low latency and high performance, as it typically uses a voting-based system. All nodes can write and read transactions, but only a supermajority of nodes can add a block. The block cannot be added if this rule is not met.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of consortium blockchain?
A blockchain consortium has both advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, it allows organizations to collaborate and work together on a shared platform, which can lead to increased efficiency and reduced costs. On the other hand, it can also be more centralized and less transparent than a public blockchain, and success depends on the willingness and ability of the consortium members to work together effectively.
Advantages of blockchain consortium include:
- Increased collaboration: Consortium blockchains allow organizations with common goals to work together on a shared platform, which can lead to increased collaboration and more efficient solutions.
- Reduced costs: By working together on a shared platform, organizations can reduce the costs of developing and maintaining their own separate systems.
- Greater scalability: Blockchain consortiums can handle a higher number of transactions than a single organization’s blockchain network.
- Improved security: The permissioned nature of blockchain consortiums means that only authorized participants can access the network, which can provide a higher level of security.
- Governance: Blockchain consortiums allow groups of organizations to set up a governance structure that allows them to make decisions and set rules for the network.
Disadvantages of blockchain consortium include:
- Centralization: Consortium blockchains are typically more centralized than public blockchains, which can make them less transparent and less resistant to censorship.
- Limited accessibility: Consortium blockchains are typically only accessible to authorized participants, which means that they may not be as widely adopted as public blockchains.
- Dependence on consortium: The success of a blockchain consortium depends on the willingness and ability of the consortium members to collaborate and work together. If the members of the consortium do not work together effectively, the network may not be successful.
- Complexity: Setting up and maintaining a consortium blockchain can be complex and requires specialized technical expertise.
- Limited flexibility: Blockchain consortiums are generally more rigid and less flexible than public blockchains, making it more difficult to adapt to changing circumstances and requirements.
How to build a consortium blockchain?
Building a consortium blockchain typically involves several key steps:
- Identify the use case: The first step in building a blockchain consortium is to identify the specific use case or problem that the blockchain will be used to solve. This can involve researching industry trends and identifying opportunities for using blockchain technology.
- Form the consortium: Once the use case has been identified, the next step is to form the consortium that will operate the blockchain. This may involve recruiting companies and organizations that have a common interest in the use case and establishing a governance structure for the consortium.
- Choose a blockchain platform: There are many blockchain platforms available, such as Ethereum, Hyperledger, and EOS. The choice of platform will depend on the specific requirements of the use case, such as scalability, security, and smart contract functionality.
- Develop the blockchain: After choosing the blockchain platform, the next step is to develop the blockchain, which typically involves building the smart contracts and other components that will be used to run the network.
- Test the blockchain: Before deploying the blockchain, it is important to test it to ensure that it is functioning as intended. This can involve conducting functional, performance, and security testing.
- Deploy the blockchain: Once the blockchain has been developed and tested, it can be deployed to the consortium members. This can include setting up the nodes that will run the network and configuring the consensus mechanism and other network parameters.
- Governance: Finally, the governance structure for the network should be established and implemented. This includes setting up the rules and policies for the network and the mechanism for making decisions about the network.
It’s important to note that building a consortium blockchain requires a significant investment of time and resources and requires a high level of technical expertise in blockchain technology and its application.
Some examples of consortium blockchains
These are just a few examples of the many blockchain consortium projects that are currently in development or being used in various industries. The use of consortium blockchain is still a new area and is likely to grow in the future.
R3 is a consortium of over 200 financial institutions that is working to develop a blockchain-based platform for financial services called Corda. Corda is a private blockchain platform that is designed to facilitate secure and transparent financial transactions.
Hyperledger is an open-source consortium blockchain project that is led by the Linux Foundation. It provides a set of tools and frameworks for building blockchain applications and is used by several companies and organizations across different industries.
Energy Web Foundation (EWF)
The Energy Web Foundation (EWF) is a global nonprofit organization that is working to accelerate the commercial deployment of blockchain technology in the energy sector. The EWF’s primary focus is on developing a decentralized, open-source blockchain platform for the energy sector called the Energy Web Chain.
Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA)
The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA) is a consortium of companies and organizations that are working to develop a version of the Ethereum blockchain that is optimized for use in enterprise environments. EEA members include major companies such as Accenture, J.P. Morgan, and Microsoft.
TradeLens is a blockchain-enabled digital shipping platform that is jointly developed by IBM and Maersk. It aims to create a digital supply chain that is more efficient, transparent, and secure.
Private vs consortium blockchain
Private blockchain and blockchain consortium are similar in many ways, but there are also some key differences between the two. One of the main differences is accessibility. A private blockchain is only accessible to authorized participants, typically within a single organization. A consortium blockchain, on the other hand, is accessible to multiple organizations that are part of the consortium.
Another key difference between the two is governance. A private blockchain is typically governed by a single organization, whereas a blockchain consortium is governed by a group of organizations. In terms of control, in a private blockchain, the controlling entity has more control over the network, including the ability to add or remove participants, set rules and policies, and make decisions about the network. In a consortium blockchain, control is shared among the members of the consortium, and decision-making is typically more democratic.
Transparency is another aspect that differs between the two; private blockchain is less transparent than public blockchain but more transparent than blockchain consortium. A consortium blockchain is more transparent than a private blockchain but less transparent than a public blockchain.
Decentralization is another aspect that differs between the private, consortium, and public blockchains. A private blockchain is typically more centralized than a public blockchain but less centralized than a blockchain consortium. A consortium blockchain is more decentralized than a private blockchain but less decentralized than a public blockchain.
Building the right access hierarchy using permissioned blockchains
Finally, security is another aspect that can be considered. A private blockchain is generally more secure than a public blockchain because access is restricted to authorized participants. Blockchain consortium is more secure than private blockchain but less secure than public blockchain.
Blockchain consortiums are becoming increasingly important in today’s business environment as more and more organizations look for ways to leverage blockchain technology to improve efficiency and security. Consortium blockchains allow organizations with common goals to work together on a shared platform, which can lead to increased collaboration and more efficient solutions. Furthermore, they can be used to develop shared platforms that can be used for multiple purposes, such as creating a shared supply chain management system or a decentralized digital identity system. As blockchain technology continues to evolve and more organizations begin to adopt it, consortium blockchains will likely play an even more prominent role in the business world.