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Public Blockchain Meaning

Oct 30, 2023 | Updated Oct 30, 2023
A public blockchain is a decentralized network that is open to everyone. Anyone can view and verify all transactions on the network’s ledger.

What is a Public Blockchain?

Like the name implies, a public blockchain is a permissionless digital ledger with no restrictions. Bitcoin and Ethereum are the two most popular types of public blockchains. Anyone can access these blockchains and even build applications on the existing infrastructure. 

A blockchain arranges and stores transaction data in the form of blocks, and users are incentivized to validate these blocks. The moment a block and the data in it have been validated, they can no longer be altered. Public blockchains use a consensus mechanism to verify transactions on the network. Proof-of-work (PoW) and proof-of-stake (POS) are the two most common types of consensus mechanisms, and both allow participation from any member of the public that meets the criteria. 

The decentralized nature of the public blockchain allows a vast number of participants to join the network and help secure it, which helps limit any hacks or breaches in the network.   Another advantage is their resiliency against tampering. It is difficult for anyone to alter the data on the blocks due to the transparent nature of public blockchains.

Public blockchains do have some drawbacks. Currently, the biggest drawback is the huge amount of energy needed to operate the blockchain. In PoW consensus mechanisms, miners compete to solve puzzles that allow them to validate a block, and this requires high computing power. This complex validation process also makes transactions slow. The permissionless nature of the blockchain allows all types of participants to enter, even those who may have ill intentions. 

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