Blockchain has been the buzzword in the business world for quite some time now. It is, however, majorly known for its potential to transform the banking and finance industry. In a recent study, Accenture stated that if banks and financial institutions adopt blockchain they can save more than $8 billion on their transactions every year. It is true that blockchain can be the game-changer there but it is also true that blockchain is not limited to that.
It’s time that businesses make blockchain an active participant in their operations. And by operations, I mean, all aspects of a business including mobile app development.
Why must we do that?
- About 74% of experts suggest that there is huge business potential in blockchain technology.
- 20+ countries have adopted or are on the verge of adopting the concept of a national cryptocurrency.
- 90% of the European and U.S. banks have already started exploring the potential of blockchain.
- It is expected that, by 2024, businesses of all stature will spend approximately $20 billion every year on blockchain technology.
- Approximately 23% of businesses worldwide are expected to invest $5 million to $10 million in the blockchain in 2020.
- Financial institutions have already spent close to $552 million on blockchain projects.
These stats speak volumes about how the blockchain technology is at an all-time high. The technology is equipped with tremendous potential to take mobile app development to new heights. One of the major advantages is that blockchain renders robust security to mobile applications so that the apps can never be corrupted and are packed with complete transparency.
That is not to say blockchain is irreproachable - the technology, indeed, brings challenges as well as massive opportunities. Going forward, we’ll take both into account.
Using blockchain for mobile app development
Blockchain for mobile app development is a novel concept given that the technology has recently crossed its infancy stage. The possibilities, however, are huge.
Step 1- Know the apps suitable for blockchain
The most important factor in the combination of mobile apps and blockchain is that the technology might not necessarily fit every kind of mobile app - the range is wide but not infinite.
An app that only publishes content, for instance, without any transaction interface does not require blockchain at all. Whereas for mobile apps that feature transaction interfaces, payment gateways, or what you may call mission-critical databases, blockchain is the way to go as it extends the security of decentralized database technology. That means the nature of the apps (financial, security, manufacture, collaboration, or supply chain management application) determines whether or not the app is suitable for blockchain technology.
Blockchain-Based Mobile Apps include
Apps that are specifically created for exchanging cryptocurrencies are suitable for traders and miners. Stock market apps that feature cryptocurrency apps allow you to have complete control over your digital assets - you can also trade with them. These cryptocurrencies, when backed by blockchain, can be used for all kinds of payments and transactions.
The electronic wallet apps can also adopt blockchain technology as they work by storing your digital assets and money that you can spend on transactions.
Next in the list are Digital asset tracker apps that provide you the much-needed, updated information around the market dynamics, rates, trades, and portfolio of several cryptocurrencies.
Then there are Retail apps (based on blockchain) that allow you to pay through cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.
Also, to drive automation in mobile apps, there’s a technology called smart contracts - it works best in blockchain environments. Smart contracts are basically transaction protocols intended to automatically execute, control, or document legally relevant events as per the terms of a contract/agreement.
Step 2- Consider key technologies
To bring the blockchain technology into mobile apps, key technologies and constituents like network, blockchain platforms, programming languages, backend/front-end processes, and quality assurance for different mobile platforms, need to be taken into account.
Certain things to consider include:
To begin with, you need to identify your network options - permissionless blockchain network or permissioned blockchain network. The former supports Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc while the latter supports platforms like Multichain. The other difference is that the former is used to boost unrestrained access while the latter is wrapped with accessibility regulations and constraints as it is a closed network.
Then there are 2 categories of blockchain-based apps - cryptocurrency applications and apps meant for smart contracts. As a mobile developer, you have yet another option to choose among several blockchain platforms - the list includes open-source or public platforms and private platforms.
Moving forward, there’s a choice of programming languages. There are of course traditional languages such as Java, C++, python, etc, but there are also blockchain-specific languages such as Simplicity and Solidity.
Step 3- How to implement Blockchain?
Now that you are familiar with blockchain-based apps and have taken the key technologies into account, it is time for the practical implementation of blockchain into mobile app development.
Choose the suitable consensus-based method
The first step towards implementation is choosing the consensus-based method as per your app’s requirement. A mutual consensus mechanism particularly ensures unconditional accessibility and security of the blockchain technology.
You need to pick the consensus method that fits the nature of the application - there are quite a few alternatives including Proof of Work, Proof of Elapsed Time, Proof of Stake, and Round Robin.
You need to first choose an appropriate configuration for the design architecture. After which you need to host blockchain with the cloud-based, hybrid, or in-house model.
There are numerous options for configurations around the processor, operating system, disk size, and memory. What you need to note here is the design architecture you choose must be based on the OS platform for which you’re developing the app.
UI and admin panel design
To develop the UI and panel design of your blockchain application, you need a front-end programming language, designated app servers, and an external database.
Also, use the console for soft-launching the app and connect it with analytics.
In the coming years, the usage of blockchain is only going to shoot up. The combination of your app idea and blockchain gives rise to an immensely promising future. Adopting the combination is, thus, the best way to go forward.
Varsha Solanki is a Digital Marketing Strategist at Space-O Canada, an iOS app development company. She has 3 years of experience in the Information Technology industry. She spends her time reading about new trends in Digital Marketing and the latest technologies.