The Public Blockchain Ecosystem: An Empirical Analysis
37 Pages Posted: 2 Jun 2020 Last revised: 14 Oct 2020
Date Written: September 27, 2020
This paper provides an empirical overview of the largely unexplored public blockchain ecosystem. Our overview highlights that only a few blockchains dominate the ecosystem although no single blockchain, not even Bitcoin, dominates uniformly. We explain our empirical findings with a simple theoretical framework that establishes three key economic attributes - scale, security, and adoption - as the determinants of blockchain user utility. We examine each blockchain along those dimensions empirically. We then establish that whether a blockchain could be welfare enhancing for some user profile can be determined by a comparison across our attributes. Applying that comparison yields that only a few blockchains could be welfare enhancing. Our results thus explain why only a few blockchains dominate the broader blockchain ecosystem and further provide an empirical framework from which to evaluate progress within the blockchain ecosystem.
Keywords: Blockchain, Cryptoasset, Cryptocurrency, Scale, Security, Adoption, Proof-of-Work, Proof-of-Stake, Delegated Proof-of-Stake, Bitcoin, Ethereum, EOS, Ripple, TRON
JEL Classification: C0, G0, O3
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation