Key Considerations and Caveats that a Blockchain App Project Should Take Into Account
While Blockchain technology became a popular buzzword in the tech circle and people across all business niches now know the huge map that it offers for data security and accessibility with a unique decentralised database, there are still not too many blockchain apps in the market.
Blockchain technology already appeared with an era-defining potential for all major industries including banking and finance, healthcare, real estate, VR, Retail and e-commerce, education, and many others. According to recent statistics, by the year 2024, the global market of Blockchain applications across industries is destined to reach $20 billion in market value. Another statistics from Grand View Research shows that the global market size of Blockchain will experience 82.4% year-on-year growth rate till the year 2028.
So, the growth prospects of Blockchain are real. Question is, what is going to be the share of Blockchain apps in this stupendous growth story? Or more precisely, how Blockchain apps are really going to drive growth for businesses? Well, while the prospect of Blockchain apps looks really promising, certain challenges and caveats must be taken into consideration.
Let us explain the key steps and most important considerations for building Blockchain apps.
Blockchain’s distributed database: Availability & Accessibility vs Inconsistency
Blockchain as we all know is basically a distributed database ledger that stores data in interconnected blocks and thus allows access to any data by coordinating among the networked computers. Multiple computers validate any action when it comes to sharing any data or unlocking any data for the designated use.
Now since a distributed database doesn’t have the constraints of a central database storage, it ensures much more fluid and smooth availability and accessibility to data than regular non-distributed database applications. Apart from ensuring optimum availability and accessibility, distributed databases also minimise the risk of failures by distributing the data across multiple computers. This ensures segregating one part of a network from other parts in case of any contingency or failure.
While these advantages are real and they make Blockchain so important a technology, these advantages nevertheless accompany some difficulties. The biggest price that you need to pay for relying on the distributed database of Blockchain is a lack of consistency. This is because any subsequent addition or update with one place may not be simultaneously updated in all other parts of the database.
To solve the problem Bitcoin Blockchain makes sure that every transaction is recorded so that the same Bitcoin cannot be spent twice. In spite of such solutions, the inconsistency is something that accompanies implementing Blockchain distributed databases.
Don’t forget the difficulties in developing distributed apps
Another caveat that we should always keep in mind is that the development of Blockchain distributed apps is not easy. It is particularly difficult for testing and debugging tasks. Let’s understand the problem from the practical developer’s point of view.
The complexity of carrying out tests and debugging any app on a single computer gets manifold and hundred times more complicated when the same needs to coordinate with multiple other software and machines. The tasks further get complicated by the buggy network that connects these systems.
Bugs that behave differently when undergoing debugging tests can add to the nightmare of testing distributed apps by coordinating with networked systems. There are other types of bugs that behave chaotically or bugs that only get detected when the app is put into use through an unconventional means. These challenging bugs even defy regular tests in a single computer. It can be imagined how complicated a scene they create for testing the app on a multitude of networked systems.
Obviously, dealing with such huge complexities involves bigger costs and development time. As for understanding app development costs involving Blockchain technology, you need to keep these challenges in mind. When you decide to go for a Blockchain distributed application, you need to set expectations for these challenges and their corresponding impact on cost and development time.
3 Major Options to Implement Blockchain Technology
When it comes to the implementation of Blockchain in apps, the cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin come to mind first. In fact, Blockchain technology was created for the express purpose of making the technological basis of the first cryptocurrency of the world, bitcoin. But soon Blockchain became popular as a distributed database system for many niches and uses.
Let us have a quick look at the 3 major ways Blockchain has been implemented in apps.
Incorporating Cryptocurrency into Apps
This is the commonest way to implement Blockchain into apps. Any app handling transactions ranging from sales of products, subscription of services or any other type of payment, can integrate a cryptocurrency payment gateway and allow people to make payment using bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. The best thing about making payments through cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin is that transactions remain completely anonymous.
Apart from offering ease of making payment through Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, this will also save the cost incurred by the transaction fees of the payment gateways. Another good thing about anonymous crypto transactions is that they don’t appear in their banking statements and ensure privacy for purchase data.
Incorporating Smart Contracts
Smart contracts anonymously facilitate creating legally valid agreements between two or multiple parties and completely do away with the third-party validation. Maintaining absolute anonymity, smart contracts ensure creating legal agreements while keeping the information private.
Smart Contract as a Blockchain-powered distributed technology can be easily incorporated into apps for facilitating bigger transactions, particularly large business transactions based on legal contracts. Major institutional purchases and business transactions in sectors like banks, Healthcare, manufacturing companies, and B2B retail can be streamlined and automated through Smart Contracts.
Integrating Smart IoT Devices
Another prominent purpose of incorporating Blockchain into apps is to facilitate smart automation of a connected ecosystem of multiple networks connected devices that we call Internet of Things (IoT).
For facilitating smart automation in homes, workplaces, and other environments, Blockchain can empower the distribution of network data across devices. Blockchain-powered interactions across devices will ensure streamlined automation involving multiple gadgets.
Do you really need Blockchain for your app? How to know it?
The promise of Blockchain technology apart, an app must have a clear idea of why and when it needs Blockchain and the precise contexts when Blockchain can really play an effective role for its business. Here we are going to explain these requirements and contexts that Blockchain can help.
Data storage requirements
Any app that needs to handle huge amounts of data on a regular basis can find Blockchain distributed ledger really helpful. Thanks to Blockchain, you can do away with the pain of managing multiple databases and can get a single consolidated view of the updated database maintained by a network of nodes.
Tracking dynamic audit trail
Blockchain databases uphold the principle of not allowing rewriting or changing any registered data and every subsequent effort to change data is registered as a separate data entry. This helps in tracking the entire audit trail corresponding to the data. Any database that frequently requires auditing or writing entries by multiple parties, will find Blockchain tremendously helpful for preventing data tampering attempts and allowing verified data entries.
Choosing between high speed and highly secure
Any app that wants to facilitate really high-speed transactions requiring millisecond performance may not find Blockchain ideal as distributed databases are slower than centralised ones. But on the other hand, Blockchain distributed databases are highly secure and don’t involve the slightest of data tampering risks. You need to make a clear choice between high-speed or highly secure transactions.
Centralised control vs third-party validation vs Blockchain
Centralised control that takes care of all authorisations and authentications centrally from one unified database may not establish trust among all stakeholders. On the other hand, third-party validation can ensure more transparency but is equally vulnerable to frauds and security threats.
Blockchain distributed databases address both of these shortcomings. By distributing data across multiple nodes and by facilitating anonymous validation by all participants in a network, it ensures stringent authentication without any scope of going wrong. On the other hand, it does away with fraud-prone and often questionable third-party validation.
Apart from ensuring high security and streamlined authentication, Blockchain also helps in removing the fees for single-source authentication or third-party authentication. Blockchain also establishes a trustless environment allowing automatic validation with the participation of multiple nodes and thus brings optimum transparency and fairness in transactions.
Here we just tried to explain the use cases and the implementation methods of Blockchain distributed database systems. Obviously, there is a lot to be said about the technology stack and other development attributes. They deserve to be covered in a separate post.