Public vs. Private Blockchains

Last Modified:
March 1, 2024

In Web3, It’s a common misconception that all blockchains are decentralized and open to anyone who wants to participate. In reality, blockchain networks may be classified as public or private, depending on who is allowed access to the network.

What is a public blockchain?

A public blockchain, also known as a decentralized blockchain, is open to anyone who wants to participate. Anyone can use the network to trade tokens, access transaction records, or share as much or as little data as they wish. The network has no owner; instead the control and maintenance of the blockchain is distributed among the participants. Because of the size of the network and the type of methods used to approve new transactions, public blockchains tend to require lots of energy and resources to function.

Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Solana are examples of public blockchains.

What is a private blockchain?

A private or centralized blockchain is controlled by a single organization. Membership is by invitation only, and all participants need to verify their real identities. With a limited set of users and a faster method of verifying transactions, private blockchains tend to be more efficient than public blockchains.

Private blockchains are usually owned by corporate enterprises such as IBM. They are usually customized for specific tasks such as internal record-keeping or supply chain management. Since private blockchains are also centralized, the owner has the ultimate authority over approving transactions and controlling membership privileges. 

These types of blockchains offer more privacy but are also more vulnerable to internal fraud. They are ideal for companies that want to benefit from blockchain technology but do not wish to share confidential data with the public.

Overall, both types of blockchains have their own advantages and disadvantages. By understanding the differences between public and private blockchains, you'll have a clearer idea of which to use depending on your specific needs and purpose.