Ever since the success of Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies, developers and entrepreneurs have been looking at what other applications could the blockchain have.
One such application that is gaining momentum is email over blockchain. But what are its pros and cons and, more importantly, what is its future?
There are a couple of benefits that blockchain email offers, including:
Since the blockchain is itself decentralized, meaning there is no central server with its vulnerabilities, users won’t have to “pay” for it with their data as is the case with “free” email services which collect that data and then sell them to advertisers.
A blockchain is a public ledger that, while anyone can see the transaction made on, you can’t change entries.
The only way for the blockchain to be attacked is if the attacker could gain control of more than 50% of the hashrate. Since there could literally be thousands of nodes, that’s for the most part out of the question.
Blockchain also eliminates the presence of a third-party service provider that would essentially have control over your data as it sits on their servers.
Authentication is one of the biggest problems of traditional email, leading to spam, email spoofing, etc.
While this has been largely mitigated with tools such as SPF (Sender Policy Framework), DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) and DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance), email forging is still an issue.
Blockchain, however, is an immutable (meaning, it cannot be modified) set of records authenticated by each node/computer, so it can easily verify and authenticate that you are receiving an email from a trusted sender and not a bad actor.
So why isn’t everyone jumping on the email over blockchain train? Well, there are a few disadvantages that we need to address as well:
One of the problems that blockchain email platforms often have is that you can only email users of that platform. Since we are not talking about platforms with Gmail-like user numbers, but a few thousand at best, this creates a sort of “members only” situation.
Very often, even if you can message someone on another platform, a lot of the features that make that particular email service shine can’t be used with the outside platform.
An average email is 75KB. Not a lot, right? Now multiply that by the number of emails sent every year (more than 100 trillion and you have an enormous storage problem.
Each node in the network needs to store its own copy of the blockchain, which creates a pretty big scalability problem.
Blockchain email probably won’t ever reach the popularity of cryptocurrencies, smart contracts, NFTs and other blockchain applications, at least not when it comes to private users, the majority of which will stick to convenient free email services like Gmail.
However, the enhanced privacy and security that it offers, as well as the authentication, could make it very attractive for businesses looking for a better anti-fraud solution.