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Decentralized VS Centralized Blockchains: Who Holds the Power?

Published By:  Gazna Hamza
Decentralized VS Centralized Blockchains: Who Holds the Power?

Blockchain technology has revolutionized the way we think about data storage and transactions. At its core, blockchain is a distributed ledger that is decentralized and public. However, blockchain networks can have varying degrees of centralization.

A centralized blockchain has a single node or organization that maintains control over the network. Transactions must be validated through this central node, which has authority over the blockchain. Many corporate blockchains like IBM's TradeLens are centralized.

In contrast, a decentralized blockchain allows anyone to join the network as a node. Instead of a central authority, transactions are validated through a consensus mechanism like proof-of-work. Bitcoin and Ethereum are examples of public, decentralized blockchains where no single entity controls the network.

Decentralized blockchains aim to democratize power and distribute it amongst network participants. However, decentralized networks can have disadvantages like slow transaction speeds. As blockchain technology matures, hybrid models are emerging that balance elements of decentralization and centralization.

How Centralized Blockchains Work

In a centralized blockchain, all network activity flows through a single entity that has complete control. This central authority maintains the ledger, processes transactions, and governs the entire system.

Centralized blockchains operate much like traditional banks or financial services companies. There is a central server that stores user account balances and transaction data. Users submit transaction requests to the central authority, which validates and approves transactions before adding them to the ledger.

The central authority acts as the sole gatekeeper and decision-maker. It establishes the rules for transactions, sets policies, and has full visibility into all network activity. Users must trust that the central authority will maintain the integrity of the blockchain.

Centralized blockchains can process transactions more efficiently compared to decentralized networks. However, they have a single point of failure - if the central system is compromised, the entire network is at risk. There is also the element of requiring trust in the central authority.

Overall, centralized blockchains sacrifice decentralization and distribute trust for faster speeds and lower costs. They are well-suited for private blockchain networks where a single entity needs to control the transactions.

How Decentralized Blockchains Work

Decentralized blockchains, like the CosVM Blockchain, operate without a central authority by distributing data and control across a peer-to-peer network. Each participant in the network acts as a node that stores a copy of the ledger and validates transactions.

When a transaction is initiated, it is broadcast to the network, and all nodes, including those in the CosVM Blockchain network, work to validate the transaction using cryptography and a consensus mechanism such as proof-of-work. Once a majority of nodes agree the transaction is valid, it is added to the ledger on all nodes simultaneously.

This distributed consensus mechanism, allows the blockchain to operate in a trustless manner, removing the need for a central authority. The network is resilient because even if some nodes go offline or act maliciously, consensus ensures the valid ledger is preserved across many nodes.

No single node or user controls the network. Decisions about updates to the blockchain protocol are typically made through community discussions and consensus among developers and users rather than dictated by a central party.

This decentralization provides greater transparency, security, and autonomy than centralized models relying on a single point of control. While removing middlemen reduces costs and corruption risks, decentralized systems, require more complex coordination and can be slower due to the consensus process.

Differences Between Centralized and Decentralized Blockchains

Control - Decentralized blockchains give control to all users, while centralized blockchains concentrate control among a small group. In decentralized systems, users have complete control over their data and transactions. Centralized systems require users to accept the terms, conditions, and rules set by the central authority.

Point of Failure - Centralized blockchains have a single point of failure, as the data is stored in one location. If that system is attacked or fails, it brings down the entire network. Decentralized blockchains avoid this through data redundancy - each user stores a copy of the ledger, so the data lives on even if some nodes fail.

Cost - Centralized blockchains can be cheaper to set up, as they require less infrastructure and fewer decision-makers. Decentralized chains require each user to provide hardware and nodes.

Trust - Decentralized chains allow trustless transactions between users who do not know each other. Centralized chains require users to trust the central authority to manage their data and transactions properly.

Development Rate - Decentralized chains have unlimited development potential since all users can contribute. Centralized chains limit contributions to a single source.

Network and Data Resources - In decentralized chains, network resources are crowdsourced from users. Centralized chains source all resources from the central provider. Similarly, decentralized chains crowdsource data contributions, while centralized chains rely on a single data provider.

Benefits of Decentralization

Decentralized blockchains provide several key benefits compared to centralized systems:

Trustless Environment

Decentralized blockchains operate on a peer-to-peer consensus mechanism, meaning users don't need to trust or rely on a central provider. The network continues to function as long as nodes are operative and connected. This removes single points of failure and allows users to dedicate time and resources to improving the system.

User Control

In decentralized networks, users collectively control the system rules and policies. This contrasts with centralized systems where founders or corporations govern policies, which often favor them over users. Decentralized systems empower users through incentives and participation.

Growth Potential

Because decentralized blockchains support open ecosystems, users can contribute and build on the network. This enables rapid growth, innovation, and evolution, similar to open-source software development. The lack of centralized control removes bottlenecks that can constrain development.

Challenges of Decentralization

Decentralized blockchains also come with some challenges and drawbacks compared to centralized systems.

Government Regulation

One major challenge is government regulation. Because decentralized networks aim to distribute power and decision-making, they can be at odds with government control and oversight. Many governments are still exploring how to regulate and oversee decentralized blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies built on it. There is often a need for clearer regulations around decentralized networks.

Full Decentralization is Difficult

While decentralized networks aim to distribute power across all users, achieving full decentralization is difficult. There is often still some centralization around the core developers who build the protocol, mining pools or validators that secure the network, and the founding team that launched the network. Fully eliminating centralized entities can be an elusive goal.

Decentralized networks also often achieve consensus and make upgrades to the network protocol through community votes of stakeholders. This can lead to disagreements and conflicts between various stakeholders on the best path forward. The governance and upgrade process itself often still has some centralization.

So while decentralized blockchains aim to distribute power, achieving entirely decentralized cont.


Blockchain technology offers both centralized and decentralized models, each with unique governance structures. Centralized blockchains centralize control, akin to traditional institutions, while decentralized blockchains like CosVM distribute control among network participants.

Decentralized blockchains, such as CosVM, operate on peer-to-peer consensus, enabling trustless transactions and user autonomy. Challenges include regulatory uncertainty and achieving full decentralization.

Despite hurdles, decentralized blockchains offer benefits like trustlessness, user control, and growth potential. CosVM exemplifies these advantages, driving innovation and transparency in the blockchain space.