Determining When to Use Blockchain

Blockchain Applicability

Do you need a shared, consistent data store?

If you answered NO, you may not benefit from a Blockchain solution and may be better off using email or spreadsheets. Blockchains provide a historically consistent data store. If you don’t need that, you don’t need a blockchain. If however, you answered YES, you can move on to question 2

Does more than one entity need to contribute data?

If you answered NO, you may not benefit from a Blockchain solution. Blockchains are typically used when data comes from multiple entities, so, if your data comes from a single entity, you may be better off considering using a database. If however, you answered YES, you can move on to question 3

Do you require that your data records, once written, are never updated or deleted?

If you answered NO, you may not benefit from a Blockchain solution and could instead consider using a database. Blockchains do not allow for the modification of historical data i.e. they are strongly auditable. If however, you answered YES, you can move on to question 4

Sensitive identifiers will not be written to the data store?

If you answered NO, you may not benefit from a Blockchain solution. It is recommended that you should not write sensitive information to a blockchain that requires medium to long term confidentiality, such as PII, or Personally Identifiable Information, even if it is encrypted. The reason for this is that data, once stored within a Blockchain, cannot be modified or deleted. And with the emergence of the EU GDPR or General Data Protection Regulation, laws surrounding the storage and accessibility of PII can conflict with the immutable nature of a Blockchain. You could therefore instead consider using an encrypted database. If however, you answered YES, you can move on to question 5

Are the entities with write access having a hard time deciding who should be in control of the data store?

If you answered NO, you may not benefit from a Blockchain solution. One of the fundamental pillars of Blockchain is its ability to enforce trust via the use of various consensus algorithms. So, if there are no trust or control issues over who runs the data store, traditional database solutions should be fine. You could therefore instead consider using a managed database. If however, you answered YES, you can move on to question 6

Do you want a tamperproof log of all writes to the data store?

If you answered NO, you may not benefit from a Blockchain solution. To elaborate, if you do not need to audit historical records to determine what happened and when it happened, you don’t need a blockchain. You could instead, once more, consider using a database. If however, you answered yes to this question, as well as those preceding it, you may have a good business case for the Blockchain-enabled project.

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