Simply put, smart contracts are blockchain-based algorithms that execute when certain criteria are satisfied. They are often used to automate the implementation of an agreement so that all parties may be confident of the conclusion right away, without the need for an intermediary or additional delay.
They can also automate a process so that the following action is executed when circumstances are satisfied.
For those with little programming knowledge, several programming languages use the same method where an outcome depends upon a specific condition.
The two sorts of “transactions” featured in a smart contract include ensuring the transfer of money upon certain triggering events and inflicting financial penalties if particular objective requirements are not met — which is now best executed automatically by smart contracts.
Once the smart contract has been launched and is operational, no human involvement is necessary, including through a reputable escrow holder or even the legal system, which lowers the expenses associated with the contracting’s execution and enforcement.
How the process works
As mentioned, a smart contract uses “if/when…then” phrases typed into code and placed on a blockchain to carry out its operations.
When predefined circumstances have been satisfied, a network of computers will carry out the actions. These can entail paying money to the right people, registering a car, sending notices, or writing a ticket.
When the transaction is finished, the blockchain is then updated. As a result, the transaction cannot be modified, and only parties to whom permission has been granted can view the outcome.
As many conditions as are required to reassure the participants that the activity will be accomplished can be included in a smart contract.
It is a must that those involved in the contract agreement on the “if/when…then” rules that govern those transactions consider any potential exceptions and design a framework for resolving disputes to set the terms.
Participants must also decide how transactions and data are recorded on the blockchain.
A developer can then construct the smart contract. However, more and more businesses using blockchain are using templates, web interfaces, and other online tools to make creating smart contracts easier.
Below are a few instances where smart contracts are used in the real world and some disadvantages of employing them in business projects.
1. Boost a digital marketing effort
Smart contracts may facilitate strong partnerships between marketers and publishers. For example, a publisher achieving predefined goals is one of the criteria that may be included in a smart contract.
The smart contract causes a payment to be sent to the publishers after an oracle verifies that they have carried out their obligations. A provision may mandate, for instance, that a popular social media account to promote a coupon offer.
The social media account owner is paid once 100 actual sales are made with the coupon. Smart contracts might also solve issues by prohibiting misleading techniques like “pixel stuffing” or publishers from exaggerating the number of impressions associated with a particular ad.
2. Do away with middlemen in financial transactions
Decentralized finance has gained interest thanks to blockchain technology. Peer-to-peer (P2P) cryptocurrency exchanges like those for bitcoin and Ethereum are where it is most often used.
The time and money required to settle these transactions might decrease by using digital currency and a smart contract.
Additionally, smart contracts can automate routine banking procedures typically handled by financial institutions, such as determining if a borrower is eligible for a loan, processing insurance claims, and implementing regulatory compliance.
3. Improve the pipeline for healthcare communication
Both insurers and patients need to have clear communication. The ability to store patient records on the blockchain might reduce the amount of paperwork that has to be processed, enhance regulatory compliance, and enable easy provider-to-provider information sharing.
For example, a patient needs a particular medical procedure. A smart contract is triggered by a previous permission request, which digitally examines insurance coverage and releases funds to the supervising facility.
4. Increase the efficiency of human resources
The process of an HR manager might be automated by utilizing distributed ledger technology. For instance, a member of HR must verify job history and check references.
By streamlining these verification activities, a smart contract might make it easier to enroll new staff. Blockchain technology might also automate tasks like processing paychecks and enforcing employee contract conditions and fines.
5. Improve supply chain operations
Enterprise blockchain may be particularly useful for several aspects of supply chain management. The traceability of items and materials may be improved through smart contracts.
For instance, specific blockchain software might trace an item’s origins as it travels through several global supply chains and instantly calculates tariffs.
However, several businesses are also looking at blockchain-based smart contracts. This is because blockchain can reduce mistakes and increase efficiency in certain situations.
The downside of using smart contracts
One advantage of smart contracts is that they share the same immutability and other properties of the blockchain. However, it also faces the same issues with privacy and security that arise with blockchain.
Due to these drawbacks, IT directors must be aware of the dangers of using business blockchain technology. These unforeseen risks should impact whether an investment in a blockchain enterprise is feasible.
1. Security threats
The underlying blockchain technology improves as more businesses integrate smart contracts into their ecosystems.
However, security hazards arise if the blockchain’s smart contract is ill-maintained or improperly built.
But the crucial action of creating a governance model may aid a company in overcoming these difficulties.
2. Inaccuracy of data
A business that relies on numerous transactions may benefit from automated data processing using smart contracts. But there remains the problem of inaccurate data entry.
Providing dishonest, incorrect, or erroneous data might still cause the smart contract to be activated by a malicious actor, an untrained user, or a user who just forgot to do something.
Therefore, to avoid mistakes, it is crucial to ensure the integrity of the incoming data.
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Blockchain-automated smart contracts was originally published in The Capital on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
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