Beyond Centralization: All About Public Blockchain Networks

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Written by
Shivani Tripathi
Published on
May 17, 2024

We live in a world mainly governed by centralized systems controlled by single entities and have a central point of failure. To overcome this challenge, public blockchain comes into the picture with its power of decentralization and interoperability. They're like digital public ledgers that everyone can see and use, but no one person or group controls. In this blog, we’ll learn how these blockchain networks can change the way we do things online. They promise more trust, transparency, and security, and they could revolutionize everything from how we buy things to how companies manage their supply chains. With this blog article today, let's take a closer look at what public blockchain networks can do and why they matter in our digital world.

What is a Public Blockchain Network?

A public blockchain or permissionless blockchain network, as its name suggests, is a network that anyone can take part in and is open to all. Unlike centralized systems, they are not governed by single entities and are maintained by a decentralized network of nodes. It ensures that no single entity has complete control over the network which ensures transparency and security. Unlike private blockchain, it doesn’t restrict its access to authorized entities and is hence permissionless.  

How Does Public Blockchain Work?

In a public blockchain, transactions are validated by network participants (known as miners or validators) through consensus mechanisms like Proof of Work (PoW) or Proof of Stake (PoS). These mechanisms ensure that all nodes agree on the validity of transactions before they are added to the blockchain. Validators are incentivized with the network’s native cryptocurrency for their efforts in maintaining the blockchain’s integrity. 

Here’s a detailed look at how public blockchains work:

Step 1. Transaction Initiation

  • User Action: A user initiates a transaction by creating a digital message that includes details such as the amount of cryptocurrency to be transferred, the sender's and receiver's addresses, and a timestamp.
  • Broadcasting: The transaction is then broadcast to the entire network of nodes (computers) in the blockchain.

Step 2. Transaction Validation

  • Nodes Receive Transaction: Nodes in the network receive the transaction and verify its validity. This involves checking the digital signatures to ensure the transaction is legitimate and that the sender has sufficient funds.
  • Consensus Mechanisms: Public blockchains use consensus mechanisms to agree on the validity of transactions and the order in which they are added to the blockchain. The two most common mechanisms are:
  • Proof of Work (PoW): Miners compete to solve complex mathematical puzzles. The first one to solve the puzzle gets to add the new block of transactions to the blockchain and is rewarded with cryptocurrency.
  • Proof of Stake (PoS): Validators are chosen based on the number of tokens they hold and are willing to "stake" as collateral. Validators create new blocks and verify transactions based on their stake, and they earn rewards for their participation.

Step 3. Block Creation

  • Grouping Transactions: Validated transactions are grouped into a block. Each block contains a list of transactions, a timestamp, and a reference to the previous block (the "hash" of the previous block), ensuring the blocks are linked in chronological order.
  • Block Proposal: In PoW, the miner who solves the puzzle proposes the new block. In PoS, the chosen validator proposes the block.

Step 4. Consensus Achievement

  • Verification: The proposed block is broadcast to the network. Other nodes verify the validity of the block and the transactions within it.
  • Agreement: Once a majority of nodes agree that the block is valid (achieving consensus), the block is added to the blockchain. This consensus process ensures that all nodes maintain an identical copy of the blockchain.

Step 5. Block Addition

  • Chain Update: The new block is added to the end of the blockchain, and the updated ledger is distributed across all nodes in the network.
  • Immutability: Once added, blocks cannot be altered or deleted, ensuring the immutability of the blockchain. Any attempt to alter a block would require altering all subsequent blocks, which is computationally infeasible in a large network.

Step 6. Incentive Mechanisms

Rewards: Validators (miners in PoW or stakers in PoS) are rewarded with the blockchain’s native cryptocurrency for their efforts in validating transactions and maintaining the network. This incentive mechanism encourages participation and secures the network.

Step 7. Transparency and Accessibility

  • Public Ledger: All transactions are recorded on a public ledger that is accessible to anyone. This transparency allows users to verify transactions independently.
  • Decentralized Control: No central authority controls the blockchain. Decisions about updates or changes to the network are made through decentralized consensus processes, often involving community proposals and votes.

Key Features of Public Blockchains

Public blockchains offer a range of distinctive features that make them powerful tools for various applications. 

Permissionless Access: 

Public blockchains are fundamentally permissionless, meaning that anyone with an internet connection can join the network, become a node, and participate in transaction validation without needing any special permissions. This feature ensures that the network is open and inclusive, allowing broad participation from individuals and entities around the world. The permissionless nature democratizes access to the blockchain, enabling diverse participation and fostering innovation. By allowing anyone to contribute to the network’s operations, public blockchains maintain a high level of decentralization, which is crucial for their resilience and integrity.


Decentralization is at the heart of public blockchains. Control and operations are distributed across numerous nodes, which are independent computers that maintain and verify the blockchain’s data. This distribution of power prevents any single entity from gaining control over the entire network, thus eliminating single points of failure. Decentralization enhances the security and reliability of the blockchain, as the system can continue to operate even if several nodes fail or are compromised. Moreover, this structure fosters an environment of equal participation, where decisions are made collectively, often through consensus mechanisms that involve a wide range of participants.


One of the standout features of public blockchains is their transparency. All transaction data is recorded on a public ledger that is visible and accessible to everyone. This transparency ensures that all participants can independently verify transactions and the overall state of the blockchain. By making transaction information publicly available, public blockchains promote accountability and trust among users. This openness also helps in reducing fraudulent activities, as every transaction can be traced and audited by anyone, making it difficult to manipulate or hide information within the network.


Public blockchains are designed with robust security features. Transactions are secured using advanced cryptographic techniques, which protect the data from unauthorized access and alterations. The decentralized nature of the network further enhances security, as it is much harder for malicious actors to compromise a large, distributed system compared to a centralized one. Public blockchains are also resistant to attacks such as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) because the network does not rely on a single server or a small group of servers. The high level of security makes public blockchains suitable for a wide range of applications, from financial transactions to data management.


Immutability is a critical feature of public blockchains. Once a transaction is added to the blockchain, it cannot be altered or deleted. This permanent record ensures that all transactions are reliable and tamper-proof. The immutability of the blockchain is achieved through cryptographic hashing and consensus mechanisms that validate and add new transactions to the blockchain. This feature provides a trustworthy history of all transactions, which is particularly valuable in applications that require a verifiable and unchangeable record, such as financial services, supply chain management, and legal documentation.


Public blockchains offer a degree of anonymity to users. Transactions can be conducted without revealing the real identities of the participants, as users are identified by cryptographic keys rather than personal information. This pseudonymous nature protects user privacy while maintaining the transparency of transactions. Anonymity is particularly important for users who value privacy and security, as it allows them to conduct transactions without exposing their details. 

Advantages of Public Blockchains

Enhanced Trust and Transparency:

Public blockchains significantly enhance trust and transparency within the network. The open ledger allows anyone to verify transactions, which builds confidence among participants. This transparency ensures that all transaction data is publicly available and can be independently audited, reducing the likelihood of fraudulent activities. By making transaction information accessible to all, public blockchains eliminate the need for trust in intermediaries and central authorities. This enhanced transparency not only fosters trust among users but also promotes greater accountability and integrity within the network, making it an attractive solution for various industries and applications.

Decentralized Control: 

One of the most profound advantages of public blockchains is their decentralized control. Since no single entity has control over the network, there is no single point of failure. This decentralization makes the system more robust and resistant to failures and attacks. This democratic approach to decision-making helps maintain the network's integrity and prevents any single entity from imposing arbitrary rules or changes. The decentralized nature also encourages innovation and development, as anyone can propose and implement improvements to the network.

Security and Immutability:

Public blockchains are inherently secure and immutable. The use of cryptographic techniques ensures that all transactions are secure and cannot be tampered with. The decentralized nature of the network further enhances its security, as it is difficult for attackers to compromise a large, distributed system. The immutability of the blockchain ensures that once a transaction is added, it cannot be altered or deleted, providing a permanent and trustworthy record. This high level of security and immutability makes public blockchains suitable for applications that require a secure and reliable record of transactions, such as financial services, supply chain management, and legal documentation.

User Empowerment: 

Public blockchains empower users by giving them control over their transactions and data. Users can directly engage in peer-to-peer interactions without relying on intermediaries, which reduces costs and increases efficiency. The ability to participate in network governance and decision-making processes further empowers users, as they can influence the development and direction of the blockchain. This self-sovereignty and involvement in governance foster a sense of ownership and responsibility among users, encouraging active participation and contribution to the network's growth and success.

Cost Efficiency: 

Public blockchains can significantly reduce costs by eliminating the need for intermediaries and third-party verification. Transactions are validated by the network participants, which reduces the reliance on centralized authorities and the associated costs. It often has lower transaction fees compared to traditional financial systems, making them a cost-effective solution for various applications. The reduction in operational costs, combined with the increased efficiency of peer-to-peer transactions, makes public blockchains an attractive option for businesses and individuals seeking to streamline their processes and reduce expenses.

Challenges of Public Blockchains

Energy Consumption: 

One of the major challenges facing public blockchains is their high energy consumption, particularly for those using Proof of Work (PoW) consensus mechanisms. The process of mining, which involves solving complex mathematical puzzles to validate transactions, requires significant computational power and energy. This high energy usage has raised environmental concerns and calls for more sustainable alternatives. While Proof of Stake (PoS) and other consensus mechanisms offer more energy-efficient solutions, the transition to these alternatives poses its own set of challenges, including technical and security considerations.

Regulatory Issues: 

The decentralized and pseudonymous nature of public blockchains can pose challenges to regulatory compliance. Governments and regulatory bodies often have concerns about the potential for illegal activities, such as money laundering and tax evasion, facilitated by the anonymity of public blockchains. Navigating the regulatory landscape while maintaining the core principles of decentralization and privacy is a delicate balance. Achieving regulatory acceptance without compromising the fundamental benefits of public blockchains requires collaboration between blockchain developers, industry stakeholders, and regulatory authorities.

Transaction Speed: 

Another challenge of public blockchains is their relatively slow transaction speed compared to centralized systems. The time required for consensus can lead to delays in processing transactions, which can be a drawback for applications requiring fast transaction times. While the security and decentralization of public blockchains are critical, finding ways to improve transaction speeds without compromising these attributes is essential for broader adoption. Solutions such as off-chain transactions and layer-two protocols aim to enhance transaction speed, but widespread implementation and adoption are still in progress.

Examples of Large Public Blockchain Networks

Some of the notable examples of large public blockchain networks are as follows: 

Bitcoin (BTC): 

Bitcoin, created by the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto, is the first and most well-known public blockchain network. Launched in 2009, Bitcoin introduced the concept of a decentralized, peer-to-peer digital currency, allowing transactions to be conducted without the need for intermediaries such as banks. Bitcoin's blockchain uses a Proof of Work (PoW) consensus mechanism, where miners solve complex mathematical puzzles to validate transactions and secure the network. Despite challenges like high energy consumption and slower transaction speeds, Bitcoin remains the largest and most influential cryptocurrency, widely regarded as digital gold. Its decentralized nature and strong security features have made it a trusted store of value and medium of exchange.

Ethereum (ETH): 

Launched in 2015 by Vitalik Buterin and a team of developers, Ethereum is a decentralized platform that enables the creation and execution of smart contracts and decentralized applications (dApps). Unlike Bitcoin, which primarily focuses on digital currency, Ethereum provides a programmable blockchain that developers can use to build a wide range of applications. Ethereum uses a PoW consensus mechanism, but it is transitioning to a more energy-efficient Proof of Stake (PoS) mechanism through the Ethereum 2.0 upgrade. Ethereum's ability to facilitate decentralized finance (DeFi), non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and other innovative use cases has made it one of the largest and most versatile blockchain networks.

Binance Smart Chain (BSC): 

Binance Smart Chain, launched by the cryptocurrency exchange Binance in 2020, is a public blockchain designed to provide high-speed, low-cost transactions for decentralized applications. BSC operates in parallel with Binance Chain and supports smart contracts and the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), allowing for compatibility with Ethereum-based applications. BSC uses a Proof of Staked Authority (PoSA) consensus mechanism, which combines elements of PoS and delegated Proof of Authority (PoA) to achieve faster block times and lower fees. BSC has quickly gained popularity due to its ability to offer scalable solutions for DeFi projects and other blockchain applications.

Polkadot (DOT): 

Polkadot, developed by the Web3 Foundation and launched in 2020, is a unique multi-chain platform that aims to enable different blockchains to interoperate and share information securely. Created by Dr. Gavin Wood, one of Ethereum's co-founders, Polkadot's architecture consists of a central Relay Chain that connects multiple parallel blockchains, known as parachains. This design allows for enhanced scalability and flexibility, enabling developers to build specialized blockchains for specific use cases while maintaining interoperability. Polkadot uses a Nominated Proof of Stake (NPoS) consensus mechanism, which enhances security and decentralization. Polkadot's innovative approach to blockchain interoperability has positioned it as a major player in the blockchain ecosystem.

Cardano (ADA):

Cardano, developed by IOHK and led by Charles Hoskinson, another co-founder of Ethereum, is a third-generation blockchain platform launched in 2017. Cardano aims to address the scalability, interoperability, and sustainability issues faced by earlier blockchain networks. It uses a unique Proof of Stake (PoS) consensus mechanism called Ouroboros, which is designed to be more energy-efficient and secure than PoW. Cardano emphasizes a research-driven, peer-reviewed approach to development, ensuring that its technology is based on scientifically validated theories and practices. The platform supports smart contracts and dApps, with a focus on providing secure and scalable solutions for a wide range of applications, including finance, education, and supply chain management.

Solana (SOL): 

Solana, launched in 2020 by Anatoly Yakovenko and his team, is a high-performance blockchain platform designed to provide fast, scalable, and low-cost transactions. Solana uses a unique combination of Proof of History (PoH) and Proof of Stake (PoS) consensus mechanisms to achieve high throughput and low latency. This allows the network to process thousands of transactions per second, making it one of the fastest blockchain platforms available. Solana's scalability and efficiency have made it a popular choice for DeFi applications, NFTs, and other blockchain-based projects that require high-speed transaction processing.

Final Words

By allowing anyone to participate and validate transactions, public blockchain eliminates the need for central authorities and fosters a more open and trustless environment. Despite challenges such as energy consumption and scalability, public blockchains continue to hold significant potential for transforming various sectors. Emerging networks like Binance Smart Chain, Polkadot, Cardano, and Solana continue to push the boundaries, addressing scalability, interoperability, and sustainability challenges with innovative approaches. These advancements highlight the diverse applications of public blockchains, from financial transactions and smart contracts to decentralized applications and beyond.