Understanding Blockchain Types: Public, Private, And Permissioned - ITU Online

Understanding Blockchain Types: Public, Private, and Permissioned

Understanding Blockchain Types: Public, Private, and Permissioned

blockchain types

Despite commonality of blockchains, the application of blockchain varies significantly across different blockchain types, namely public, private, and permissioned blockchains. This article delves into the distinctions, benefits, and considerations of each type, offering insights into their optimal use cases and implications for businesses and individuals alike.Blockchain technology, at its core, serves as an immutable ledger, facilitating a secure and transparent way to record transactions across a distributed network. Despite this commonality, the application of blockchain varies significantly across different types, namely public, private, and permissioned blockchains. This article delves into the distinctions, benefits, and considerations of each type, offering insights into their optimal use cases and implications for businesses and individuals alike.

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Public Blockchains: Openness and Transparency

Public blockchains epitomize decentralization. Open to anyone without membership prerequisites, these blockchains like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Monero are characterized by their global node distribution and the public visibility of transactions. With over 16,000 Ethereum nodes globally, public blockchains offer unparalleled transparency and security through distributed consensus mechanisms, without the need for intermediaries. This openness ensures that transactions are not only transparent but also resistant to censorship and manipulation, making public blockchains a robust platform for digital currencies and decentralized applications.


  • Cryptocurrencies (e.g., Bitcoin, Ethereum)
  • Decentralized applications (DApps)
  • Non-fungible tokens (NFTs)
  • Decentralized finance (DeFi) platforms


  • Bitcoin: The first and most well-known cryptocurrency, used primarily for peer-to-peer value transfer.
  • Ethereum: Supports smart contracts and DApps, enabling a wide range of applications beyond simple transactions.
  • Monero: Focuses on privacy, allowing users to conduct transactions anonymously.

Other Features:

  • Decentralization: No central authority; control is distributed across all participants.
  • Transparency: All transactions are publicly verifiable.
  • Censorship Resistance: Transactions cannot be easily censored or reversed.
  • Security: Secured by cryptographic algorithms and consensus mechanisms like Proof of Work (PoW) or Proof of Stake (PoS).
  • Open Participation: Anyone can join the network and participate in the consensus process.

Private Blockchains: Permissioned and Controlled

Contrary to public blockchains, private blockchains operate within a permissioned environment, typically within an enterprise or a consortium. These blockchains, exemplified by Hyperledger and Corda, restrict node participation to selected members, offering a more controlled and efficient consensus process. The transactions on a private blockchain are only visible to authorized participants, ensuring privacy and compliance with regulatory standards. Private blockchains are particularly beneficial for industries requiring high transaction throughput and strict access controls, such as finance and healthcare, where compliance and data privacy are paramount.


  • Supply chain management
  • Identity verification
  • Internal voting systems
  • Secure document or data management within an organization
  • Private financial transactions


  • Hyperledger Fabric: An open-source project hosted by the Linux Foundation, designed for enterprise solutions. It supports modular architecture and provides a high degree of privacy.
  • Corda: Designed for financial services, it enables direct transactions with value privacy and assurance.
  • Quorum: A permissioned blockchain derived from Ethereum, tailored for enterprise applications requiring high speed and throughput.

Other Features:

  • Privacy: Transaction details are visible only to network participants with appropriate permissions.
  • Efficiency: Higher transaction speeds due to a limited number of nodes.
  • Control: Network governance is centralized within an organization or consortium.
  • Compliance: Can be designed to comply with industry regulations and standards.
  • Scalability: Easier to scale due to controlled node participation and less computational overhead.
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Permissioned Blockchains: A Hybrid Approach

Permissioned blockchains sit between public and private blockchains, combining elements of both. They offer a degree of openness while allowing for controlled access and participation. This hybrid model supports various applications, from financial transactions between banks to supply chain management, where the benefits of blockchain technology—such as security, transparency, and efficiency—are realized within a regulated and compliant framework.


  • Cross-organizational data sharing
  • Streamlining regulatory compliance and auditing
  • B2B contracts and transactions
  • Industry-specific applications, e.g., healthcare for patient records, finance for cross-border payments


  • Hyperledger Besu: An Ethereum client designed to be enterprise-friendly for both public and private permissioned networks.
  • R3’s Corda Enterprise: A version of Corda tailored for enterprise use, offering features like 24/7 support and blockchain application firewall.
  • IBM Blockchain: Built on Hyperledger Fabric, it offers a flexible and secure platform for building and running enterprise blockchain networks.

Other Features:

  • Selective Transparency: Combines the transparency of public blockchains with the privacy controls of private networks.
  • Interoperability: Designed to interact with other blockchains, facilitating the exchange of information and value.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Allows for compliance with specific regulations while benefiting from blockchain technology.
  • Customization: Organizations can tailor the blockchain to their specific needs, choosing which data to share publicly and what to keep private.

Choosing the Right Blockchain

The choice between public, private, and permissioned blockchains depends on several factors, including the need for transparency, transaction speed, security, and compliance requirements. Public blockchains offer the highest level of transparency and are best suited for applications that benefit from decentralization and public participation. Private blockchains, on the other hand, are ideal for enterprise applications requiring privacy, high transaction speeds, and regulatory compliance. Permissioned blockchains offer a middle ground, providing a balance between control and openness.

Hybrid Blockchains: Best of Both Worlds

A hybrid blockchain approach combines the strengths of public and private blockchains, offering a versatile solution for businesses that require both public transparency and private control. This model allows for secure, private transactions within an organization while enabling selected information to be shared on a public blockchain, offering a flexible and customizable blockchain solution.

Understanding Blockchain Types: Public, Private, and Permissioned

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Blockchain technology presents a spectrum of options tailored to different needs and applications. From the open and decentralized nature of public blockchains to the controlled and efficient environment of private and permissioned blockchains, understanding the distinctions and benefits of each type is crucial for leveraging blockchain technology effectively. As the blockchain landscape continues to evolve, businesses and individuals must carefully consider their specific requirements and the unique advantages of each blockchain type to make informed decisions and harness the full potential of blockchain technology.

Key Term Knowledge Base: Key Terms Related to Blockchain Types

Understanding key terms related to blockchain types is essential for anyone looking to delve into the world of blockchain technology, whether for academic purposes, professional development, or personal interest. Blockchain technology underpins a wide range of applications, from cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum to various use cases in finance, supply chain management, and beyond. Different types of blockchains offer diverse capabilities and are suited to different use cases, making it crucial to grasp the fundamental concepts and terminology.

BlockchainA decentralized, distributed ledger technology (DLT) that records transactions across multiple computers in such a way that the records cannot be altered retroactively.
Public BlockchainA blockchain that anyone can join and participate in, such as Bitcoin or Ethereum, characterized by its fully decentralized nature and transparency.
Private BlockchainA blockchain where access is restricted by the network creator, often used by enterprises for business-to-business interactions and internal use.
Consortium BlockchainA semi-private blockchain controlled by a group of organizations rather than a single entity, combining some aspects of both public and private blockchains.
DecentralizationThe distribution of power away from a central authority in a network, a fundamental aspect of blockchain technology.
Smart ContractsSelf-executing contracts with the terms of the agreement between buyer and seller being directly written into lines of code, which automatically enforce and execute the terms of the agreement.
CryptocurrencyA digital or virtual currency that uses cryptography for security and operates on a blockchain, designed to work as a medium of exchange.
Distributed LedgerA database that is consensually shared and synchronized across multiple sites, institutions, or geographies, accessible by multiple people.
Consensus MechanismA system used to achieve agreement on a single data value among distributed processes or systems. Common mechanisms include Proof of Work (PoW) and Proof of Stake (PoS).
Proof of Work (PoW)A consensus algorithm that requires a participant node to prove that work has been done to validate transactions and create new blocks. Commonly used by Bitcoin.
Proof of Stake (PoS)A consensus algorithm that selects transaction validators based on the number of coins they are willing to stake, or lock up, as collateral.
TokenizationThe process of converting rights to an asset into a digital token on a blockchain.
CryptographyThe practice and study of techniques for secure communication in the presence of third parties known as adversaries. Blockchain relies heavily on cryptographic algorithms to ensure the integrity and security of data recorded on the ledger.
HashingThe process of converting an input of any length into a fixed size string of text, using a mathematical function. It is a one-way process and crucial for maintaining the integrity and security of data on a blockchain.
Peer-to-Peer Network (P2P)A decentralized communications model in which each party has the same capabilities and either party can initiate a communication session, used in blockchain for distributing data.
Immutable LedgerA ledger that is write-once and read-many, meaning that once data is written, it cannot be changed, ensuring the integrity of the historical transaction data in a blockchain.
MiningThe process by which transactions are verified and added to the public blockchain ledger, as well as the means through which new bitcoins are released. Involves solving complex cryptographic puzzles.
NodeAny computer that connects to the blockchain network and contributes to its functioning either as a miner/validator (in the case of cryptocurrencies) or simply as a transaction verifier.
WalletA digital wallet that allows users to store and manage their cryptocurrency assets. Can be software-based (online, desktop, or mobile) or hardware-based.
DApp (Decentralized Application)An application that runs on a decentralized network, avoiding a single point of failure.
ForkThe creation of an alternate version of the blockchain, leaving two blockchains to run simultaneously on different parts of the network. Can be “hard” (not backward compatible) or “soft” (backward compatible).
Non-Fungible Token (NFT)A type of cryptographic token on a blockchain that represents a unique asset or good. They are used to create verifiable digital scarcity.

This list includes fundamental terms that provide a solid foundation for understanding the various types of blockchains and their key characteristics, as well as the underlying principles that make blockchain technology a revolutionary tool for digital transformation and security.

Frequently Asked Questions Related to Blockchain Types

What is the difference between public, private, and permissioned blockchains?

Public blockchains are open to anyone and operate without a central authority, allowing for transparent, secure, and immutable transactions. They are ideal for cryptocurrencies and decentralized applications.

Private blockchains are restricted and require permission to access. They are controlled by a single organization or consortium, offering privacy and efficiency for internal processes.

Permissioned blockchains are a hybrid type, where access to the network is restricted, but the blockchain may retain some characteristics of public blockchains, like transparency and security, for certain applications or participants.

Can a private blockchain become a public blockchain?

No, a private blockchain cannot directly become a public blockchain because they are designed with fundamentally different access controls and governance models. However, a business can choose to transition its system or data from a private to a public blockchain through migration or by creating a new public blockchain application that interfaces with the private blockchain.

What are the main advantages of using a permissioned blockchain over a public blockchain?

Permissioned blockchains offer several advantages over public blockchains, including:

Increased privacy and security, as access is restricted to authorized participants.

Higher efficiency and scalability, due to fewer nodes participating in the consensus process.

Regulatory compliance, as they can be customized to meet industry-specific regulations.

Control over governance, allowing organizations to set rules and permissions tailored to their needs.

Are transactions on public blockchains always visible to everyone?

Yes, transactions on public blockchains are transparent and can be viewed by anyone through blockchain explorers. This transparency is a fundamental feature of public blockchains, ensuring accountability and trust among participants. However, the identities of the parties involved in the transactions are pseudonymous, represented by blockchain addresses rather than personal information.

How do consensus mechanisms differ across blockchain types?

Public blockchains typically use consensus mechanisms like Proof of Work (PoW) or Proof of Stake (PoS), which allow for decentralized control and security but can be resource-intensive and slower.

Private and permissioned blockchains often use less computationally intensive consensus mechanisms, such as Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance (PBFT) or delegated PoS, which provide faster transaction speeds and scalability but require trust among a smaller group of participants.

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