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  • Gulshanpreet Singh

What are Blockchain-Based Smart Contracts and Why Should You Care?


“A smart contract is a self-executing contract with the terms of the agreement between buyer and seller being directly written into lines of code. The code and the agreements contained therein exist across a distributed, decentralized blockchain network. The code controls the execution, and transactions are trackable and irreversible.” - Investopedia

While blockchain goes about as a sort of information base, affirming that exchanges have occurred, smart contracts execute code involving pre-decided conditions. The code contains a bunch of rules under which the gatherings of those smart contracts consent to communicate with one another. If and when the predefined rules are met, the understanding is naturally implemented. These contracts give instruments to productively oversee tokenized resources and access rights between at least two gatherings. The hidden qualities and access rights they oversee are put away on a blockchain, which is a straightforward, shared record, where they are shielded from erasure, altering, and amendment. In this way, they give a public and obvious approach to implant administration rules and business rationale in a couple of lines of code, which can be examined and implemented by the greater part agreement of a P2P organization.

Smart agreements — an idea created by cryptographer Nick Szabo, empower blockchain's utilization case past computerized resources via naturally permitting the execution of the provisions of an agreement without requiring a mediator. The smart contract platforms— specifically, Ethereum had likewise seen increased interest during the 2017-2018 assembly.


How Does Smart Contract Work?


Smart contracts work by following simple “if/when…then…” statements that are written into the code on the blockchain. A network of computers executes the actions when predetermined conditions have been met and verified. These actions could include releasing funds to the appropriate parties, registering a vehicle, sending notifications, or issuing a ticket. The blockchain is then updated when the transaction is completed. That means the transaction cannot be changed, and only parties who have been granted permission can see the results. Further, within a smart contract, there can be as many stipulations as needed to satisfy the participants that the task will be completed satisfactorily. To establish the terms, participants must determine how transactions and their data are represented on the blockchain, agree on the “if/when...then…” rules that govern those transactions, explore all possible exceptions, and define a framework for resolving disputes. Then, the smart contract can be programmed by a developer accordingly.

One of the best things about the blockchain is that, because it is a decentralized system that exists between all permitted parties, there’s no need to pay intermediaries and it saves time and conflict. If implemented correctly, smart contracts provide transaction security superior to traditional contract law, thereby reducing coordination costs of auditing and enforcement of such agreements. They track the performance of the agreement in real-time and hence save costs, as compliance and controlling happens on the fly. Further, smart contracts reduce the transaction costs by reducing the costs of reaching an agreement, formalization, and enforcement. Owing to these advantages, smart contracts are now being used for registering ownership and property rights, like land registries and intellectual property, or managing smart access control for the sharing economy.


Industry Examples

  • Elections - Blockchain voting systems could make voting securely and helpfully reachable through advanced methods. Blockchain voting systems may broaden availability, empower bigger electing interests, and accelerate the difficult strategy for counting and announcing votes in certain regions.

  • Real Estate - Smart contracts in this industry measure accustomed record property possession of any structure. They optimize dealing speed and potency by reducing the requirement for lawyers or brokers. Sellers can take charge of the process.

  • Insurance - Smart contracts strengthen claim processing through frequent checks in errors and facilitate administering policies from individuals or organizations. Shorter processing times will result in lower costs for consumers – together with premium rates.

  • Medical - More healthcare institutions are gearing up towards reliable automation and up-to-date security measures. Hospitals are primary targets of cybercriminals since they hold a wealth of sensitive information. Even massive names within the sector like UCLA Health have been victims of data breaches, amounting to 4.5 million patient records compromised. With this, many healthcare institutions across the US have begun prioritizing healthcare managers and administrators with specific skill sets to counter these. Considering that new technologies and innovative practices increase at a speedy rate.

  • Trade Finance - Smart contracts cut back costly errors. The ability of these contracts to modify workflows and sharpen calculations helps in reducing work hours as well.

  • Mortgage - Like exchange clearing, contract loaning depends on for the most part obsolete systems. Advance endorsement includes bank representatives and outsiders auditing a torrential slide of monetary records and afterward physically sharing them using email. Each report should be endorsed to be followed, making this cycle amazingly arduous and defenseless against human-related slip-ups. With smart contracts, the whole interaction can be digitized and generally mechanized. All elaborate gatherings will approach the digitized forms of reports, and installments will be naturally finished after gathering electronic marks.

Limitations of Smart Contracts


Smart contracts are an extremely young technology. Despite having a lot of promise, it is still prone to problems. For example, the code that makes up the agreement must be perfect and must not contain any bugs. A savvy agreement must be just about as brilliant as individuals coding it, considering all accessible data at the hour of coding. This can prompt mix-ups and, in some cases, to such bugs being abused by tricksters. Blockchains have their issues, yet they are appraised, evidently, quicker, less expensive, and safer than customary frameworks, which is the reason banks and governments are going to them. Also, there are worries about unofficial law, tax collection and requirements around these agreements.

  • Inflexibility - The interest in smart agreements among ventures can be generally ascribed to the robotization capacities that this innovation infers. Ideally, smart agreements are a completely self-working component that doesn't need any human intercession after being conveyed on a blockchain. Notwithstanding, most business connections are perplexing. Representing every single imaginable possibility and subtleties in an agreement is inconceivable both in composed and computerized arrangements. Traditionally, parties are compelled to look for legal help to help them settle authoritative issues that are regularly forced by unanticipated conditions. While this issue can't be totally alleviated paying little mind to the kind of agreement, smart agreements can consequently reference an outer arbitrager when unforeseen components become an integral factor. Other than that, we can anticipate that AI should incredibly improve the agreement drafting and requirement by covering a greater extent of potential possibilities. Honestly, AI actually will not have the option to change contract arrangements inconsistency with standards of reasonableness, in any event in the near future. Presently, most smart agreements applied in business connections should be open-finished and depend on the mediator to be successful.

  • Link To The Real World - Numerous authoritative arrangements require a type of connection to this present reality, which thwarts the guarantee of smart agreements to be completely self-governing. At times, it's feasible for a blockchain to adequately deal with off-chain information if it's freely accessible and can be generally trusted. For instance, stock costs or climate conditions can be effortlessly checked from numerous confided sources. Notwithstanding, there are various situations when data is freely free yet requires one's actual presence to be checked. For instance, the online business area could profit from smart agreement execution, yet product conveyance confirmation is presently impractical without human intercession. It very well may be contended that this test can be overwhelmed with the expansion of IoT, however, the absence of normalization and generally speaking youthfulness of this innovation makes it attainable just in the distant future. In addition, numerous contractual obligations that fall into the off-chain class can't be equitably estimated and computationally checked. For instance, while in principle you can confirm item conveyance, the approval of the item's highlights can't be caught by double rationale.

What is the Need of the Hour?


While smart agreements possibly authorize legal agreements if certain conditions are met, there is a need to determine numerous techno-lawful inquiries which will require time and interdisciplinary talk among legal advisors and programming engineers. We can likewise have to execute more modern authoritative conditions, including decentralized debate settlement devices. We will most likely see a combination of lawful agreements and brilliant agreements arise over the course of the following not many years as the innovation turns out to be more fully grown and inescapable, and as lawful principles are embraced. Notwithstanding, we right now actually need best practices, and will most likely need some ideal opportunity to go through an aggregate learning stage. In any case, the greater part of these issues exists absolutely on account of how youthful smart agreements are as an innovation. With such a guarantee, the innovation will unquestionably be consummated over the long run. Without a doubt, smart contracts are going to turn into a necessary piece for our public.


Future of Smart Contracts


Like any new innovation, blockchain has advanced from a plan to a market trendy expression, and now to a genuine arrangement with applications in genuine business conditions. The advancement from a plan to a fruitful application requires significant investment; however blockchain was revealed as an idea in 1991, associations are seconds ago starting to consolidate it into architected applications in their creative innovations. As an ever increasing number of associations develop blockchain conditions, one freedom for advancement appears to be clear: smart contracts.

It is unquestionably the route forward for moderately straightforward contracts that can be coded and executed consequently once pre-conditions have been met for example in private conveyancing where fruition monies can be delivered when agreements are agreed upon. Smart contracts will save organizations around the world a lot of time and cash and will profoundly change the way that they associate with each other in the production network, and with their buyers. There will be restricted human collaboration which will let loose people and key chiefs from managing routine organization and formality, empowering them to continue ahead with normal everyday employment as the smart contract automatically takes up the slack.


Furthermore, smart contracts eradicate the need for trust within business relationships. Parties will not control the contract, so any commercial fears will cease to play a part. Events will be monitored and triggered automatically by blockchain. Because a smart contract creates a digital relationship between the parties to the contract, it also means that any updates are recorded in real time, avoiding the danger of multiple iterations being in circulation at any one time.


References

  1. https://corpgov.law.harvard.edu/2018/05/26/an-introduction-to-smart-contracts-and-their-potential-and-inherent-limitations/

  2. https://blockgeeks.com/guides/smart-contracts/

  3. https://ethereum.org/en/developers/docs/smart-contracts/

  4. https://www.computerworld.com/article/3412140/whats-a-smart-contract-and-how-does-it-work.html

  5. https://blockchainhub.net/smart-contracts/

  6. https://www.ibm.com/topics/smart-contracts

  7. https://cointelegraph.com/ethereum-for-beginners/what-are-smart-contracts-guide-for-beginners

  8. https://www.itransition.com/blog/smart-contract-applications

  9. https://www.edureka.co/blog/smart-contracts/

  10. https://in.pinterest.com/pin/296393219222347663/

  11. https://medium.com/@diamantemedia/blockchain-and-smart-contracts-flow-diagram-d1f1c5d8472b

  12. https://medium.com/@teexofficial/what-are-oracles-smart-contracts-the-oracle-problem-911f16821b53

Gulshanpreet assists clients on protecting and enforcing their patent portfolios in multiple jurisdictions. Gulshan has a Bachelor's degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering. His undergraduate studies focused on analog and digital devices, microprocessors, antenna systems and digital and wireless communication.


Keywords - Smart Contracts, Blockchain, cryptography, computer security, data security, distributed ledger, cryptocurrency, bitcoin, Ethereum, digital currency, patents in blockchain, blockchain leading countries, blockchain leading players


Copperpod provides Technology Due Diligence and Source Code Review services to help attorneys dig deep into computer technology products. Our experts are well versed with Java, Objective-C, C/C++, PHP and most other popular programming languages, as well as expertise on security and cryptography standards such as DES, AES, RSA, OpenPGP, MD5, SHA-1, SHA-2, DSA and WEP to provide clients with unparalleled insights and thorough analysis during IP monetization and litigation.

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