Paper 2021/023

What is Meant by Permissionless Blockchains?

Nicholas Stifter, Aljosha Judmayer, Philipp Schindler, Andreas Kern, and Walid Fdhila


The term permissionless has established itself within the context of blockchain and distributed ledger research to characterize protocols and systems that exhibit similar properties to Bitcoin. However, the notion of what is meant by permissionlessness is often vague or left implicit within the various literature, rendering it imprecise and hard to compare. We hereby shed light onto this topic by revising research that either incorporates or defines the term permissionless and systematically expose the properties and characteristics that its utilization intends to capture. Based on this review, we highlight current shortcomings and blind spots within the available definitions. In particular, the ability to freely perform transactions between users is often not adequately incorporated and different actor roles are left unspecified. Furthermore, the topics of privacy and governance appear to be largely overlooked.

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Publication info
Preprint. MINOR revision.
permissionless blockchain distributed ledger
Contact author(s)
nstifter @ sba-research org
2021-08-06: revised
2021-01-06: received
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Creative Commons Attribution


      author = {Nicholas Stifter and Aljosha Judmayer and Philipp Schindler and Andreas Kern and Walid Fdhila},
      title = {What is Meant by Permissionless Blockchains?},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2021/023},
      year = {2021},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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