Skip to content

How Many Blockchains Are There in 2023? A Deep Look at the Proliferation of This Transformative Technology

Blockchain burst onto the scene in 2009 with the launch of the Bitcoin cryptocurrency built on an innovative decentralized ledger architecture. In the decade+ since, blockchain has exploded in usage across a diverse array of functions. But just how many blockchain platforms and networks now exist globally as we move into 2023 and beyond? What is driving this rapid rate of adoption and what does the future hold for blockchain proliferation?

In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll take an in-depth look at the world of blockchain in 2023 – from understanding exactly what blockchain technology is, to evaluating the different types of blockchain networks, to profiling some of the most prominent platforms across industries, to projecting the future growth trajectory of blockchain adoption. Let‘s dive in!

Demystifying Blockchain: A 101 Overview

Before getting into statistics on the number of blockchain networks out there, it‘s helpful to step back briefly and define what exactly we mean when we talk about "blockchain" and "blockchain technology".

At its most basic, a blockchain is a decentralized digital ledger or database for recording transactions and other data in a verifiable, secure, and permanent way.

What makes blockchain a game-changing technology is that data is recorded on these ledgers in "blocks" that are then "chained" together using sophisticated cryptographic algorithms. This creates an immutable, tamper-proof record of all transactions across the distributed network of participants.

Some key technical properties of blockchain networks that enable many of their benefits:

  • Decentralized – Blockchains have no central authority or owner. The ledger is distributed across a peer-to-peer network where each participant maintains a copy. No single entity controls the data.
  • Transparent – All transactions are broadcast to the participant network and validated through a consensus process. Everyone can view transaction histories.
  • Immutable – Once data is recorded and confirmed on the blockchain, it cannot be altered retroactively. Serves as permanent audit trail.
  • Cryptographically Secure – Transactions are validated and secured through complex cryptography like hashing algorithms and digital signatures. This enhances security.
  • Consensus-driven – A defined consensus mechanism like Proof-of-Work or Proof-of-Stake allows participants to agree on the state of the blockchain before new blocks are added.

These innate characteristics give blockchain networks utility as trustworthy ledgers for activities ranging from recording financial transactions, to tracking supply chain data, to securing health records, and far more.

Now that we‘ve defined the technology itself, let‘s look at the different types of blockchain networks that can be deployed.

Public, Private, Consortium: Models for Blockchain Networks

There are several ways that blockchain ledgers can be structured, with each model having distinct tradeoffs between things like scalability, privacy, centralization, and permissions.

The four primary types of blockchain networks are:

Public Blockchains – These completely open networks allow anyone to join, view, and submit transactions. Public blockchains prioritize decentralization, transparency, and security. Examples include Bitcoin and Ethereum. Challenges can include slower transactions and higher computing requirements.

Private Blockchains – Private networks place permissions and access under the control of a single organization. Read permissions may be public or restricted. Transactions are fast and efficient but decentralization is limited. Used for internal enterprise data sharing.

Consortium Blockchains – Control of the blockchain is shared between a pre-selected group of entities or organizations. Only approved participants can join the network, but transactions are viewable by all members.

Permissioned Blockchains – Can be layered on top of public or private blockchains to set more granular controls over who can join and what permissions they have to read and submit transactions. Allows for hybrid models.

Which model an organization chooses depends on their specific goals, use case and priorities. Tradeoffs exist between control versus decentralization. Next, let‘s look at some estimates for how many blockchain networks are actively deployed globally in 2023 across these different models.

Measuring the Growth: How Many Blockchains Exist Today?

Blockchain technology has expanded rapidly from its origins in cryptocurrency and financial transaction processing. But estimates vary on precisely how many active blockchain networks are up and running today on a global scale. Here are some statistics:

  • CoinMarketCap has over 10,000 cryptocurrencies listed on its platform that leverage some form of blockchain. While not all are unique chains, it illustrates exponential growth.
  • Per PwC research, there are over 5,000 companies actively working on blockchain solutions just in the U.S. alone.
  • Over 100 multinational corporations across all industries are investing in blockchain for supply chain, contracts, and other records [PwC].
  • A Deloitte survey found over 2,000 blockchain-related projects are underway just in financial services like banking, insurance, and capital markets.
  • 55% of global executives state their firms already have some form of blockchain deployed today [Deloitte].
  • Leading research firm Gartner predicts that enterprise blockchain adoption will grow 400%+ from 2022 to 2026 as benefits become more clear.

So while no one knows the precise count, credible estimates point to at least 2,000+ active enterprise blockchain networks deployed globally across a variety of models, with rapid growth on the horizon.

Next let‘s look at some prominent examples of live blockchain networks across sectors to understand the possibilities this technology enables.

Real-World Blockchain Use Cases: Profiles of Top Networks

The applications for blockchain ledgers are still evolving but many networks have already seen impressive real-world adoption. Here are profiles of some of the most well-known and interesting blockchain platforms across sectors:

Finance

Ripple – Provides a blockchain-based payment and remittance network for faster cross-border transactions between banks and financial institutions. Over 150 clients globally.

DAML – An open-source smart contract language created by Digital Asset optimized for financial use cases. Used to model business processes and digitize assets.

FedNow – The proposed blockchain-based instant real-time payment and settlement service to be launched by the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank in 2023.

Supply Chain

TradeLens – IBM and Maersk shipping joint venture using blockchain to share real-time supply chain data across over 175 million annual shipping events globally.

Walmart Food Trust – Blockchain food traceability program tracking data end-to-end across the supply chain for over 25 product lines to enhance food safety.

Everledger – Digitally tracks and certifies diamonds and other high value items on blockchain to prevent fraud and verify authenticity. Over 3 million diamonds certified.

Government

MiPasa – A decentralized blockchain platform launched by the World Health Organization to enable open-sourced sharing of data on emerging disease threats.

Blockchain-Based Service Network (BSN) – China‘s nationwide blockchain project involving major players like Tencent, Huawei and Compasses focused on smart city and digital identity applications.

e-Estonia – One of the most digital economies, Estonia offers over 500 government services digitally including blockchain-based health, judicial, legislative, security and commercial applications.

Energy Trading

Electron – Backed by energy giants like Centrica and Shell, Electron provides a decentralized energy trading platform using blockchain technology and smart contracts.

Power Ledger – This blockchain-based platform out of Australia enables peer-to-peer renewable energy trading between producers, retailers and consumers.

Energi Mine – Rewards energy efficient behavior by using blockchain to track reductions in energy consumption and allowing companies and individuals to trade tokenized carbon credits.

These examples offer just a small glimpse into the incredible variety of innovative ways blockchain networks are already being leveraged by forward-thinking enterprises.

The Road Ahead: Growth Projections for Blockchain Adoption

Blockchain adoption is still early stage in the context of enterprise IT systems and core infrastructure. But based on assessments of the technology‘s innate strengths in security, transparency, automation, cost reductions and risk mitigation, experts foresee an acceleration in adoption.

Here are some predictions on blockchain growth:

  • PwC: Financial services spending on blockchain is forecast to exceed $1.7 billion by 2022 source
  • Deloitte – 55% of executives plan to invest $5+ million in blockchain over the next year source
  • Gartner – Blockchain business value-add is projected to grow rapidly from $3.1B in 2023 to $17.9B in 2027 source
  • Market Research Future – Global blockchain market size is expected to grow at CAGR of 44.5% from 2022 to 2030 source
  • PwC – Over 80% of banks are expected to start blockchain projects by 2021 source

The momentum clearly shows that blockchain will be an increasingly fundamental aspect of enterprise IT infrastructure and global commerce over the next decade. While challenges exist, the efficiencies unlocked by decentralized, transparent and secure data sharing are too compelling for widespread adoption across industries.

Conclusion

As we look to the future, blockchain‘s rise seems inevitable. Blockchain represents the next stage in the digitization of business, one where trust is built through decentralization and cryptography rather than powerful intermediaries. The benefits for transparency, resiliency, collaboration, speed and automation all point to a proliferation of blockchain, both in the number of networks and the range of uses.

While the exact count is elusive, credible estimates point to thousands of enterprise blockchain networks already deployed today with aggressive growth projected. As the technology matures, becomes standardized and achieves more mainstream familiarity, expect to see blockchain permeate supply chains, financial systems, public records, healthcare networks, and essentially any process that can gain efficiencies through secure data sharing. The era of blockchain is just beginning.

So in the end, the specific number of blockchains in 2023 is less important than the anticipating the scope of transformative potential. Blockchain represents an evolution in how humans build trust and cooperation. And that kind of paradigm shift has truly limitless applications.

nv-author-image

Michael

Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.