Decentralization is a concept that involves removing control from a centralized authority or organization and redistributing it among multiple entities on a distributed network. This is said to ensure data privacy and security by allowing data to be shared securely and giving users complete control over their data.
Decentralization has found a place in blockchain technology, which is a cryptographically secured, universal, and open-source ledger for keeping track of financial transactions, usually in the field of cryptocurrencies. This means that it is not controlled by any single bank, government, or organization and that it can be accessed by anyone with an internet connection.
But does decentralization actually fulfill its claims or is it plagued by the same faults it tries to fix? Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of decentralization:
On the plus side…
- No government interference: Since blockchain is not controlled by any central agency like the government or bank, it is not prone to meddling by the government. This makes it immune to issues like devaluation and hyperinflation, unlike fiat currencies.
- Immutability: Blockchain is an open-source technology, which means every single transaction made on it is public, and under the watchful eyes of miners all over the world who verify and validate transactions on the network. This makes the possibility of a fraudulent transaction very unlikely. This is quite possibly the biggest merit of blockchains.
- Faster and cheaper transactions: Since blockchain allows the transfer of currencies directly from one person to another, there is no need for a third party to get involved. This allows for instant transactions with no usage fees, which is a convincing incentive for most users.
- Digitalization: Unlike other forms of wealth, blockchain-based currencies can be stored and transferred online and don’t need to be stored in a physical location like gold, fiat currency, or other valuables. This permits easier, safer storage as well as a smoother transition to a digital lifestyle.
On the other hand…
- Criminal activity: Since the system is decentralized, there is complete anonymity in transactions. This lack of user verification can lead to blockchain being used for illicit activities. However, this is also true for centralized currencies at times, albeit on a smaller level.
- Volatility: Values of blockchain currencies can fluctuate depending on events in the real world because of their decentralized nature. This can make companies and governments reluctant to adopt them, fearing a possible financial crisis.
- Higher implementation costs: Although blockchain is more economical for individual users, it implies a greater cost for corporations, which is another deterrent to mass adoption and application.
- Greater energy consumption: Mining cryptocurrencies requires a large amount of computational power and electricity input, making it highly energy-intensive, and consequently very bad for the environment.
So what’s the final word?
Decentralization is a relatively new concept, being less than a decade old. So it would be wise to conclude that we are yet to understand it completely and realize both its potential and downsides. With the advent of more innovations in the field of blockchain and decentralized finance, we will get a better understanding of how we can make the best use of this technology.