Blockchain is made up of a collection of underlying technologies that can be bound together in multiple ways. This allows blockchains to be conﬁgured in multiple ways to serve diﬀerent purposes. Our review of various blockchain platforms identiﬁed four diﬀerent approaches represented by the options outlined below.
Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency with a related open-source platform. Bitcoin’s blockchain is primarily designed to support the exchange of cryptocurrency without an intermediary third party. Bitcoin assumes no trust between parties and requires numerous decentralized nodes to ensure the blockchain has not been corrupted by malicious actors.
Much like Bitcoin, Ripple is based on an open-source protocol that uses blockchain to exchange value. Ripple has an established user-base of regional and global banks that need to transact international payments in real-time. Ripple also allows the trade of goods, property, and items of value.
Whereas the two other platforms are primarily focused on their own currency trade, Ethereum launched in July 2015 with the goal of providing a fully functioning programming language to allow users to build full applications with an integrated blockchain. Ethereum is a crowd-funded and open-source programming language. Users of Ethereum can program executable smart contracts and decentralized applications using the blockchain.
The Hyperledger project focuses on developing an open source and collaborative approach to distributed ledgers. By developing standards and an overall framework for blockchains, Hyperledger has gained support from organizations including Cisco, American Express, and IBM. Some library and information science schools are incorporating Hyperledger into their curriculum. Hyperledger has stated they will never build a cryptocurrency.