What is an Unpermissioned Ledger?

The meaning of Unpermissioned ledgers is distributed ledger networks, often referred to as "trustless" or "decentralized" networks. In such networks, there is no central authority that controls the network and all participants must agree on the state of the ledger. The consensus mechanism used in unpermissioned ledgers is usually a Proof-of-Work (PoW) algorithm, although other consensus mechanisms have been proposed and adopted by some projects. This allows the state of the ledger to be maintained without relying on any single entity or person. As a result, unpermissioned ledgers offer greater security than their centralized counterparts, as they rely on multiple parties for verification instead of a single entity. Further, unpermissioned ledgers are resistant to manipulation or tampering and can be used for a variety of applications, including peer-to-peer payments, digital asset exchanges, smart contracts, and much more. Unpermissioned ledgers have the potential to revolutionize the way we transact with one another, by providing a more secure platform for exchanging value. By enabling trustless transactions between two parties without the need for a third party intermediary, they may open up new economic opportunities never before possible. The possibilities are endless.

However, unpermissioned ledgers do have some drawbacks. For example, PoW consensus is expensive in terms of energy consumption; this means that it is not suitable for large scale public networks. Also, because there is no single entity responsible for the network, it can be difficult to implement updates or new features. Finally, unpermissioned ledgers are vulnerable to malicious actors attempting to manipulate or control the ledger. For these reasons, many projects have chosen to adopt a hybrid approach that combines centralized and decentralized elements in order to maximize security and scalability.

Overall, unpermissioned ledgers offer great potential but also come with certain risks. It's important for all participants in such networks to understand their own responsibilities and requirements before engaging in transactions on an unpermissioned ledger platform. With careful consideration of the pros and cons of these networks, they could help power a future where trustless digital transactions become commonplace.

Simplified Example

An unpermissioned ledger is like a public library. In a public library, anyone can go in and read the books, there is no need of permission to access it. Similarly, an unpermissioned ledger is open for everyone to access and participate in, it doesn't require any permission to access or use it.

On the other hand, a permissioned ledger is like a private library where a person needs permission to enter and read the books. Only certain people have the authority to access it.

History of the Term "Unpermissioned Ledgers"

The term "unpermissioned ledger" is a comprehensive expression used to characterize any form of distributed ledger devoid of control by a singular entity. Originally associated with Bitcoin, designed as a decentralized and censorship-resistant currency, the concept extends beyond public blockchains like Bitcoin and Ethereum to encompass private blockchains and permissioned ledgers. Bitcoin's blockchain, open to all participants, operates without central authority, enabling anyone to contribute transactions to the ledger. Over time, the term "unpermissioned ledger" has broadened to encompass a diverse array of distributed ledgers, ranging from private blockchains with limited control to permissioned ledgers governed by a consortium of organizations.


Bitcoin: Bitcoin is an example of an unpermissioned ledger, as it operates without the need for a central authority or intermediary to validate transactions. Transactions on the Bitcoin network are validated through a decentralized consensus mechanism, where participants on the network compete to validate transactions and add them to the ledger. This eliminates the need for a central authority or intermediary to validate transactions, making the network more secure and resistant to censorship.

Ethereum: Ethereum is another example of an unpermissioned ledger, as it operates on a decentralized platform that allows for the creation and execution of smart contracts. Like Bitcoin, Ethereum operates without the need for a central authority or intermediary to validate transactions, making the network more secure and resistant to censorship.

Monero: Monero is a privacy-focused cryptocurrency that operates on an unpermissioned ledger, providing users with greater privacy and security when making transactions. Monero uses advanced cryptographic techniques to obscure the details of transactions, making it difficult for third parties to track the flow of funds on the network. This enhances the privacy and security of the network, as transactions are validated through a decentralized consensus mechanism, eliminating the need for a central authority or intermediary.

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

  • Private Blockchain: A decentralized digital ledger that is maintained by a closed group of participants who are trusted and authorized to access the network.