There are too many blockchains - here's why.

Software engineering is about trade-offs. The blockchain trilemma influences how different blockchains evolve towards mainstream adoption.

Posted on May 09, '24

Software engineering is about trade-offs - couple of years in are enough for that realisation. Building resilient technical solutions are not about theoretical right answers, but choosing the best fit for each individual use-case.

Most engineers are familiar with the CAP theorem i.e a distributed database system can only provide 2 out of 3 guarantees between consistency, availability and partition tolerance.

A similar trade-off exists for blockchain systems. The blockchain trilemma refers to the trade-off between security, scalability and decentralization, that every blockchain makes.

Decentralized permission-less blockchains are mostly secure with a large number of validators and a low likelihood of collusion. This often is not scalable due to the time required for consensus.

Scalable and secure blockchains, on the other hand, will require powerful node infrastructure, thereby compromising on limiting decentralization.

And finally, if a blockchain is both scalable and decentralized, such as multi-chain and modular ecosystems, it may be subject to security risks due to a complicated synchornizations and interoperabilty.

As multiple blockchains come up with a diverse range of solutions, approaches, tests and experiments for various use-cases, this is definitely an ever-evolving dynamic ecosystem to watch.