Exploring the Potential: Programmability of Blockchains

by Filip Blagojević, November 02, 2023
Looking at the world of blockchain technology, we have explored its origins, the rise of cryptocurrencies, and the intricacies of different consensus mechanisms. Now, it's time to dive into one of the most revolutionary aspects of blockchain: programmability.

What are smart contracts?

At the heart of blockchain's programmability lies the concept of smart contracts. Smart contracts are self-executing agreements with the terms of the contract directly written into code. These contracts run on the blockchain, ensuring transparency, immutability, and trust in the execution of agreements. Ethereum, the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, pioneered the concept of smart contracts. Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum's co-founder, envisioned a blockchain platform that could do more than just transfer digital assets. Ethereum introduced a Turing-complete programming language, Solidity, allowing developers to create decentralized applications (DApps) by writing smart contracts.

How do smart contracts work?

Smart contracts operate on an "if-then" basis. If a certain condition is met, the contract's predefined code is executed automatically. For example, a simple smart contract might facilitate a bet between two parties. If one team wins a sports match, the contract transfers the wagered amount to the winning party. If the other team wins or there's a draw, the funds transfer to the opposing party.

These contracts are not controlled by any single entity, making them trustless. Once deployed on the blockchain, they execute as programmed, eliminating the need for intermediaries like banks or lawyers.

Use cases of smart contracts

Smart contracts have a wide range of applications beyond simple bets. Here are a few examples:

  • Decentralized finance (DeFi): DeFi platforms leverage smart contracts to create financial services such as lending, borrowing, and trading without relying on traditional banks.

  • Tokenization of assets: Real-world assets like real estate or art can be represented as tokens on a blockchain. Smart contracts enable fractional ownership and automated revenue distribution to token holders.

  • Supply chain management: Tracking the origin and journey of products becomes more transparent and efficient with blockchain-based supply chain solutions. Smart contracts can automate quality checks, payments, and notifications.

  • Voting systems: Smart contracts can facilitate secure and transparent voting processes, reducing the risk of fraud and manipulation.

  • Gaming and collectibles: Blockchain-based games and collectibles use smart contracts to create unique, tradable in-game assets.

Challenges and Limitations

While the potential of smart contracts is immense, there are challenges to overcome:

  • Security: Smart contracts are immutable once deployed. Any coding errors or vulnerabilities can lead to catastrophic losses. Auditing and testing are critical.

  • Scalability: As more DApps are developed, blockchain networks may struggle to handle the increased computational demands. This has led to the exploration of layer two scaling solutions.

  • Legal Recognition: In many jurisdictions, the legal status of smart contracts is still evolving. Enforcing smart contracts in the physical world can be complex.

We have now covered some of the basics of blockchain technology that allows us to dive deeper into more concrete examples of applications being built and used, as well as cutting-edge advancements in the technology itself. In our next blog, we will explore the DeFi space in more detail.

About the author:
Author avatar
Filip Blagojević
Business Development and Blockchain Operations
Filip is the person to contact if you want to use our services. He deals with client needs and project management. He is also our resident crypto enthusiast, educating our clients and us on the best use cases of blockchain technology.
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