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What Is a Blockchain Ecosystem?

Last updated 16th Feb 2023

A blockchain ecosystem is a collection of different elements, attributes, and characteristics that merge together to build a blockchain network, including the network participants, native tokens, validators, protocols, DAO, and so on. All of these elements work together to render a functional blockchain ecosystem.

Introducing Blockchain Ecosystems

A blockchain ecosystem is comprised of a peer-to-peer network, participants connected through the internet, protocols regulating its governance, and native tokens. All these elements come together to ensure that a blockchain network, a decentralized system of records, maintained by its participants rather than a centralized governing entity.

While having ingredients in common, each blockchain ecosystem is unique and has its own way of functioning. Some blockchains, like Bitcoin or Stellar, solely revolve around trading it’s native cryptocurrency, while others, like Ethereum, allow participants to build versatile decentralized applications on top of the platform.

This guide lists the elements that make a blockchain ecosystem, explains the way in which they work together to maintain and grow the network, and provides notable examples.

How a Blockchain Ecosystem Works

A blockchain network, also referred to as a decentralized ledger system is maintained without a central authority, which would normally be responsible for processing information and keeping the records updated, secure, and genuine.

In a decentralized network, these responsibilities are shared among the network participants and laid out in the protocol. The participants make use of consensus mechanisms to collectively update and verify each data entry, all of which are also protected using cryptography technologies, making the network immutable and traceable.

Types of Blockchain Ecosystem:

Below are the three different types of blockchain ecosystems:

  • Single-party-led blockchain ecosystem: This ecosystem is led by a single organization where all the stakeholders have a mutual benefit for participating in the network. For example, Bumble Bee Foods has created a single-party-led blockchain ecosystem to improve the traceability of yellowfin tuna fish. This helped to improve the buyer’s confidence in the fish’s freshness.

  • Joint venture blockchain ecosystem: This is also known as the Consortium blockchain ecosystem. These are slowly becoming popular and they involve two or more organizations in the ecosystem. The participating organizations have an objective of participating in a common activity or pooling their resources for achieving a common goal. For example, BunkerTrace a marine fuel tracking solution is a joint venture blockchain ecosystem between Forecast technology Ltd. and Blockchain Labs for Open Collaboration (BLOC).

  • Regulatory blockchain ecosystem: This ecosystem comprises various government agencies that hare a project and have to self-report for compliance. For example, a shared project between Marine Transport International and Recycling Association.

Elements of a Blockchain Ecosystem

Blocks — The information in a blockchain is stored in blocks, which are cryptographically sealed through a hashing function, and are timestamped. Each block contains a limited amount of transaction data, its own hash code, and the previous block’s hash core.

Nodes — Devices, or participants, of a blockchain network who run the network’s software and take part in its maintenance.

Validators — Validators assume the responsibility of authenticating transactions and creating new blocks to be added to the chain, also referred to as mining. The validating action is incentivized by rewarding an amount of native cryptocurrency. .

Consensus Mechanisms — Protocols of this sort determine the selection of validators, and how transactions will be authenticated and served for the approval of the other nodes, with the most notable examples being proof of work and proof of stake.

Smart Contracts — Popularized by the Ethereum network, smart contracts render blockchains programmable, meaning that developers can write and develop self-executing programs on blockchain networks. This paves the way for a variety of projects, most notably dapps and DAOs.

Decentralized Applications — Dapps are open-source consumer applications serving a variety of needs from finance to gaming, governed by self-executing protocols, smart contracts, rather than a single entity or corporation.

Decentralized Autonomous Organizations — A DAO refer to a blockchain community embracing a bottom-up management model where every shareholder has a say. Terms and conditions of organizations as such are codified and executed through smart contracts. A DAO may function in a variety of ways, from investment clubs to charities.

Wallets — Wallets are instrumental in allowing users to engage with dapps. Any user can set up a wallet without submitting any personally identifying information, allowing them to store and trade cryptocurrencies and interact with decentralized exchanges, applications, and more.

Use Cases for Blockchain Ecosystems

While user-centric public blockchains like Bitcoin or Ethereum takes the spotlight most times, blockchain ecosystems are also being used in facilitating cross-enterprise communications within industries, where organizations harness the distributed database blockchain technology to automate shared operations and sharing information in a transparent and secure manner.

Finboot, for example, has created a blockchain-based logistics ecosystem for airlines, fuellers, and logistics operators to participate, which created a platform through which participants can optimize the reconciliation of refuelling services. The chain benefits from both private and public architecture to ensure confidentiality of sensitive data of respective organizations.

One other example is Bumble Bee Foods, which brings together fishermen, packagers, transportation personnel, distributors, and retailers, and with the help of a collection of records, the network provides ocean-to-plate traceability of yellowfin tuna fish. Customers can view the information regarding the product by simply scanning a QR code.

Blockchain ecosystems of the sort are typically permissioned networks. Meaning that more often than not, they are governed by single or multiple entities that allow participants to engage with the activities of a network.

What was the need to invent Blockchain?

Every time we use the internet or download new applications on our Android or iOS phones – we give access to many personal data points to the entities who have created the application. Blockchain technology was invented to promote an internet ecosystem – where the users hold more power over their data and right to privacy.

Blockchain enables a more secure and democratized way of dealing with data – where the data ownership remains with the users rather than the Giant conglomerates. Also, the time, energy, and right to information monetization remain with the User.

It can help create a foolproof tracking system for the Medical Records of a patient, the Education history of Students, and Fair and transparent trading in the Cryptocurrency markets.

How will blockchain ecosystem benefit organizations?

The distributed nature of blockchains is the perfect example of network technology. It can bring new functionalities and business value for the employees and customers of an organization. It will revamp the complete workflow and how blockchain projects are developed, from the starting stage to the end.

For a blockchain to be viable for an organization, it has to consider how it can improve the ongoing operation that an existing solution can't. For example, in an organization where database entry is limited and there is no need to share data among peers, a blockchain ecosystem would not be that beneficial. But an organization where data sharing among various entities, departments and individuals occurs at a higher rate could benefit from the blockchain structure of validating data among nodes or peers as fast as possible.

The biggest advantage of a blockchain's distributed ledger is that the exchange of information is swift. The use of smart contracts in blockchains can also remove intermediatory in a business process that would extend the time to perform a task in a larger process. A private blockchain ecosystem can give visibility to the participants, but at the same time, the information given out to the participants can be controlled

Future of Blockchain Ecosystems

While early examples of blockchain ecosystems, most notably Bitcoin, revolve around cryptocurrency, the launch of Ethereum and the following networks paved the way for developers and organizations alike to acknowledge the blockchain technology versatile abilities and untapped functionalities.

Today, established corporations like IBM lead the way for industries and firms to harness blockchain technology to automate their workflows and integrate with similar enterprises and end-customers in a streamlined, transparent, and secure way.


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Idil Woodall

Idil Woodall

Idil is a writer with interests ranging from crypto and politics to fintech and media. She spent several years in publishing before becoming a full-time writer in the technology space, and learning the inner workings of an industry she loved ignited her interest in economics. As an English graduate, she cultivated valuable research and storytelling abilities that she now applies to make complex matters accessible and understandable to many. When she’s not writing, she can be found climbing or watching a movie.