What is Permissionless?

Permissionless is a term used to describe a characteristic of some blockchain systems. A permissionless blockchain is a decentralized network that allows anyone to participate without the need for prior approval or permission from a central authority. This means that anyone can join the network, validate transactions, and create blocks, regardless of their location, background, or technical expertise.

Permissionless blockchains are often seen as the most true to the original vision of blockchain technology, as they aim to create a trustless system where participants can transact and interact with each other in a secure and transparent manner, without the need for intermediaries. The most well-known example of a permissionless blockchain is Bitcoin, which was designed to be a decentralized digital currency that operates without intermediaries and with no central authority controlling it.

One of the key benefits of permissionless blockchains is that they provide equal access to the network for all participants, regardless of their identity. This makes it possible for individuals to participate in the network and transact with each other without the need for trusted intermediaries, and can help to promote financial inclusion and reduce barriers to entry.

Another benefit of permissionless blockchains is their openness and transparency. All transactions and blocks are publicly available on the network, and can be audited and verified by anyone, providing a high level of transparency and accountability.

However, permissionless blockchains also have some drawbacks. One of the main concerns is that the lack of central authority can make it difficult to regulate the network and prevent malicious actors from engaging in fraudulent or illegal activities. Additionally, permissionless blockchains can be vulnerable to security attacks, as the network relies on the collective effort of its participants to secure it.

Simplified Example

Imagine you're playing a game of tag with your friends in a park. In this game, anyone can join in and play, and no one is telling anyone else what they can or can't do. This is like a permissionless blockchain because anyone can participate, and there are no rules or restrictions that dictate who can join or what they can do.

In the same way, a permissionless blockchain is a type of blockchain technology that allows anyone to join the network and participate in the transactions without having to ask for permission or approval. This means that anyone can create transactions, validate transactions, and access the information stored on the blockchain, as long as they follow the rules of the network.

In this analogy, playing the game of tag represents participating in a permissionless blockchain, and the park represents the network where anyone can join and participate without having to ask for permission.

History of the Term "Permissionless"

The foundational concept of permissionless systems has its roots in early cybernetic and computer science principles, notably self-organizing systems and distributed networks. In the 1980s, the term "permissionless innovation" gained prominence within hacker and cypherpunk communities, advocating for unrestricted access to technology and information, eliminating the need for centralized control or permission. Concurrently, computer scientists such as David Chaum and Nick Szabo explored the potential of cryptographic and decentralized technologies to facilitate permissionless interactions and transactions. The dissemination and popularization of permissionless systems accelerated with the internet's rise and the open-source software movement in the 1990s. Technologies like Napster and BitTorrent exemplified permissionless sharing and distribution in the peer-to-peer realm. The mainstream adoption of Bitcoin in 2009 further brought the term "permissionless" to the forefront, showcasing a tangible application of decentralized and permissionless systems through a digital currency operating without a central authority.


Bitcoin - Bitcoin is the world's first decentralized digital currency and is considered a permissionless system. Transactions are recorded on a public ledger, known as the blockchain, and can be made by anyone with a Bitcoin wallet. Bitcoin operates without intermediaries and requires no permission from any central authority to use. This means that anyone with an internet connection can send and receive Bitcoin, making it a truly accessible and decentralized system.

Ethereum - Ethereum is a decentralized, open-source blockchain platform that is designed to support decentralized applications. Ethereum operates on a permissionless system, allowing anyone to participate in the network and create smart contracts. The Ethereum platform operates without intermediaries, making it a truly decentralized and accessible system for developers, businesses, and organizations.

IOTA - IOTA is a permissionless, open-source distributed ledger technology that is designed to support the Internet of Things (IoT). IOTA operates without intermediaries, allowing anyone to participate in the network and perform transactions. The IOTA platform operates on a permissionless system, making it a decentralized and accessible technology for businesses and organizations that are exploring the potential of the IoT. IOTA provides a secure and scalable platform for businesses to build and deploy IoT solutions, making it a valuable tool for organizations in a variety of industries

  • Blockchain: A decentralized, digital ledger that records transactions across a network of computers.

  • Decentralized Network: A network architecture that operates without a central authority or centralized point of control.