If you’ve been keeping track of developments in the bitcoin industry, you’d know that the blockchain refers to the public ledger of transactions associated with the cryptocurrency. As the bitcoin ecosystem has grown in size and scale throughout the years, the blockchain has also increased considerably in length and storage size, prompting debates on whether or not to increase its block size limit.
By design, a blockchain is resistant to modification of the data. It is "an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way". For use as a distributed ledger, a blockchain is typically managed by a peer-to-peer network collectively adhering to a protocol for inter-node communication and validating new blocks. Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without alteration of all subsequent blocks, which requires consensus of the network majority. Although blockchain records are not unalterable, blockchains may be considered secure by design and exemplify a distributed computing system with high Byzantine fault tolerance. Decentralized consensus has therefore been claimed with a blockchain.
Confidential Transactions — At present, all Bitcoin transactions are completely public, albeit pseudonymous. Confidential Transactions, as the name implies, conceal the amount being transferred to all except the sender, the recipient, and others they designate. The resulting transaction size is significantly larger, but includes a sizable “memo” field that can be used to store transaction or other metadata, and is still smaller than eg Zerocoin.(Note that this isn’t as confidential as Zerocash, which conceals both the amount and the participants involved in any transaction, through the mighty near-magic of zk-Snarks. Mind you, Zerocash would require an esoteric invocation ritual to initiate its network. No, really. But that’s a subject for a separate post.)
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“Such brazen theft would indicate  that Bitcoin would be (in the near future) without sidechains of any kind, and  that Bitcoin itself may be in danger from the miners (and we may need to consider using an alternate proof-of-work hash function),” he explained the impact of this setup in his original post on the topic. Like SPV sidechains, drivechains require a soft-forking change to Bitcoin.
The main point of a side-chain is to allow cryptocurrency networks to scale and interact with one-another. For example alt-coins and Bitcoin run on separate chains, however side chains allow for these separate currencies to be transferred through these two-way 'portal's or interfaces via a fixed conversion amount. Added benefits of side-chains are different asset classes like,stocks, bonds etc being integrated through a converted price onto the main chain, along with additional functionality like smart contracts,unique D-Apps, micro-payments and security updates that can be later incorporated into the primary network from these side-chains.
Instant Payments: Since the creation of Bitcoin there has been a race for faster transaction confirmations. Instant payments allow new use cases, such as retail store payments, and transactions in online games. RSK carefully chosen parameters and new theoretical protocols (such as DECOR+GHOST) allow creating blocks at 10 seconds average interval, with low stale block rate, and no additional centralization incentives.
The two-way peg is the mechanism for transferring assets between sidechains and is set at a fixed or predefined rate. Bitcoin’s Dynamic Membership Multi-Party Signature (DMMS) plays a vital role in the functionality of the two-way peg. The DMMS is one of Bitcoin’s lesser known but incredibly important components. It is a group digital signature — composed of the block headers in Bitcoin — that has no fixed size due to the computationally powered PoW nature of its blockchain. The Pegged Sidechain paper further describes it as:
This approach isn’t fool-proof, but it’s not by mistake that the system looks the way it does today (that’s my history degree talking). Despite best technical efforts, human problems remain within the realm of probability. From http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/15/books/15masl.html: “…blame cannot be easily assigned: not even the most sophisticated economists of the era could accurately predict disaster, let alone guard against it. The effects of a public herd mentality at the time of the [insert catastrophe here] are depicted, all too recognizably, as unstoppable.”
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“Not only is decentralization, open protocols, open source, collaborative development and living in the wild a feature of Bitcoin, that’s the whole point. And if you take a permissioned ledger and say, that’s all nice, we like the database part of it, can we have it without the open decentralized P2P [peer-to-peer] open source non-controlled distributed nature of it, well you just threw out the baby with the bathwater.”
Blockchain-based smart contracts are proposed contracts that could be partially or fully executed or enforced without human interaction. One of the main objectives of a smart contract is automated escrow. An IMF staff discussion reported that smart contracts based on blockchain technology might reduce moral hazards and optimize the use of contracts in general. But "no viable smart contract systems have yet emerged." Due to the lack of widespread use their legal status is unclear.
Public chains to the rescue! Public chains offer public transaction data that can be verified in real-time by anybody that cares to run a node. The more independent users or institutions that take part in verification, the more secure and decentralised the chain becomes! At Iryo, we strive to have every clinic doing full validation of the global state for the relevant smart contracts (EOS based). Public blockchains are mainly useful for two things; value routing (including initial creation and distribution) and trustless timestamping of messages.