What Are The Most Common Consensus Algorithms Run By Blockchain Business Models?

In distributed systems, consensus algorithms enable users across the system to agree on a single decision as the system evolves. As a result, consensus algorithms play a key role in Blockchain-based businesses as they enable the underlying protocols to process transactions and make more important strategic decisions. The most important consensus algorithms are proof of work (Bitcoin, Ethereum 1) and proof of stake (Ethereum 2).

Proof of Work vs. Proof of Stake


Proof of Work In A Nutshell

A Proof of Work is a form of consensus algorithm used to achieve agreement across a distributed network. In a Proof of Work, miners compete to complete transactions on the network, by commuting hard mathematical problems (i.e. hashes functions) and as a result, they get rewarded in coins.

Proof of work was the major and most successful consensus algorithms that resulted from Bitcoin’s underlying Blockchain. Indeed, this was first envisioned in Satoshi Nakamoto’s White Paper (the practical application, as the theory behind it, was developed a few decades earlier).

Bitcoin was the first digitalized and decentralized cryptocurrency, released as open-source software in 2009. It uses an underlying technology called Blockchain, which works as a digital, distributed ledger, that can be used as a mechanism for disintermediating trust in transactions.  

The proof of work consensus algorithm would also become the foundation to Ethereum 1, the first iteration of Ethereum. However, as Ethereum is rolling out at scale, a Proof of Stake algorithm between 2022 and 2024 will make Ethereum transition toward a more hybrid model, relying on both proof-of-work and proof-of-stake.

Ethereum is a cryptocurrency currently ranking at number two in market capitalization after Bitcoin, which is at the top. However, in terms of being used actively, Ethereum is ahead of Bitcoin. While Bitcoin is sent, received, and held only in a singular form, Ethereum allows entities to create different ledgers. These can even be used to create additional cryptocurrencies. The use and transactions using Ethereum have grown consistently over the years ever since it began operations half a decade ago.

Proof of Stake In A Nutshell

A Proof of Stake (PoS) is a form of consensus algorithm used to achieve agreement across a distributed network. As such it is, together with Proof of Work, among the key consensus algorithms for Blockchain protocols (like the Ethereum’s Casper protocol). Proof of Stake has the advantage of the security, reduced risk of centralization, and energy efficiency.

Other blockchains that leveraged proof-of-stake consensus algorithms comprised Steem, which used to own the Steemit site, then took over by TRON.

In a Blockchain Economy, a good chunk of value is at a protocol level. Therefore, you will have a Blockchain Protocol (in this case Steem is the protocol) which has a set of underlying rules. The Steem protocol reaches consensus, and it follows a proof-of-stake (contrary to Bitcoin where there is a proof-of-value mechanism). On top of the Steem protocol, several applications can be freely built. Those applications will be decentralized, as they will be based on a decentralized network in the first place. In the Steem Blockchain context, Steemit is among the largest and most important (Steemit was the first application launched as a use case for the Steem Protocol).

Other consensus algorithms

Other consensus algorithms comprise proof-of-activity, proof of authority, proof of burn and a few more.

Proof-of-Activity (PoA) is a blockchain consensus algorithm that facilitates genuine transactions and consensus amongst miners. That is a consensus algorithm combining proof-of-work and proof-of-stake. This consensus algorithm is designed to prevent attacks on the underlying Blockchain.

Read Next: Proof-of-stakeProof-of-workBitcoinEthereumBlockchain.

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Published by

Gennaro Cuofano

Gennaro is the creator of FourWeekMBA which reached over a million business students, executives, and aspiring entrepreneurs in 2020 alone | He is also Head of Business Development for a high-tech startup, which he helped grow at double-digit rate | Gennaro earned an International MBA with emphasis on Corporate Finance and Business Strategy | Visit The FourWeekMBA BizSchool | Or Get The FourWeekMBA Flagship Book "100+ Business Models"