App adoption is witnessing an exponential rise across the globe. India is no exception. Rising penetration of the internet, mobile-first culture, and a high young population are the driving factors behind this trend. From buying of grocery to purchasing apparel; from booking an air ticket to fixing appointments with doctors; apps have penetrated our lives in a big way. According to digital intelligence firm Sensor Tower, Asia will see the highest growth in mobile app adoption with a CAGR of 6.2 per cent to reach 88.3 billion first-time downloads by 2026. Within the Asian region, India is expected to lead with 40.2 billion new downloads by 2026. As the access to the internet rises, usage of apps in our daily lives is set to rise further. Apps can be centralised or decentralised in nature. While centralised apps are very popular in the current context, more and more apps are getting built in decentralised format.
What are Decentralized Applications (dApps):
Decentralized applications, or dApps, are those software programmes that run on a blockchain or peer-to-peer (P2P) network of computers instead of on a single computer. Unlike centralised apps, which are controlled by a single authority, dApps stay outside the purview and control of any single authority. dApps are often built on the Ethereum platform. Currently, dApps are in use for a variety of purposes including gaming, finance, and social media among others.
Advantages of dApps:
As users flock to apps, the safety and privacy of users’ data face increasing threats from cyber attackers. In several instances, users’ personal data have been breached, creating huge personal and financial liabilities. Similarly, the world is increasingly worried about the power of centralised apps (like Facebook and Twitter) over various world events by controlling the narrative. In this context, dApps due to their decenralised nature come with distinct advantages over centralised apps.
Safety & privacy of users’ data:
Unlike centralised apps, decentralized apps do not require personal data to access their features and functions. Therefore, there is no fear of data breach as no personal data is shared. Users can use these apps quite confidently without experiencing any privacy issues. This is significant as the world has seen many instances of data breach in centralised apps. For instance, Facebook (now Meta) faced a major data breach in which the personal data of 533 million users got leaked. In a similar attack on hospitality major Marriott International, close to 400 million guests’ personal data including phone numbers, passport details, email addresses, and other sensitive information got leaked.
No central authority:
dApps ensure smooth transactions between two parties securely without involving a centralized authority. This feature allows dApps to grow in popularity as users don’t face any censorship from a central authority. Moreover, decentralised nature of dApps ensures transparency and accountability. In the last decade, many social media apps, which are centralised apps, have become very powerful in moulding and influencing public opinion. The world is now replete with stories where active censorship by centralised authorities of these apps has changed political discourse in many countries. Apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, Whatsapp, and many others have been alleged abetted many controversial events across the world by posting or sharing contentious material. Against this backdrop, dApps get rid of such centralised authorities. Therefore, the scope of censorship doesn’t exist with more accountability.in case of dApps.
Scaling up with multiple use cases:
Decentralized apps are known for their flexibility. Such flexibility allows us to build apps for different sectors like gaming, banking, ecommerce, retail, and many others at ease. Moreover, scaling up is rather easy in the case of dApps. So, huge numbers of users can transact through the interface which are dApps. Such inherent ability to scale up makes it fit for consumer-facing businesses, which usually see millions of customers transacting over a period of time.
Low cost of maintenance:
As decentralised apps use a shared network, a vast amount of data can be maintained without much cost. In centralised apps, data storage and retrieval require demand for both spaces for storage and specialised staffers. Therefore, the maintenance cost of centralised apps is usually higher than the dApps. Such affordability makes dApps fit for multiple use cases across sectors.
Less disruption, more stability:
Compared to centralised apps, dApps are more stable in their flexibility. The robustness of dApps also comes from the fact that it relied on a centralised server to function. As these apps operate on a blockchain network, such apps hardly see any interruptions. For any consumer-facing business, such stability and robustness make a compelling case for using dApps. For instance, India has seen many instances where consumer data has been leaked from ecommerce apps that are centralised in nature. If such apps become decentralised in nature, such risks can be mitigated to a large extent.
Despite these positive features, the process of developing dApps also faces some challenges. Firstly, dApps are relatively new. While the traditional apps market runs into a multi-billion dollar market, dApps is a multi-million market. After a surge in the use of dApps, the design, and development of such apps have been on a decline since 2018. This is because it being a relatively new concept, which will go through its own evolution cycle. Secondly, design, development, and maintenance of dApps are more expensive than the traditional apps. Research shows a functional dApp cost in the range of $50,000-$200,000 for an enterprise, which is way higher than a traditional app. Therefore, small and medium enterprises are staying away from the design and development of such apps despite their several advantages over centralised apps. Moreover, user experience is not up to expectations in dApps. With sound user experience being the key to better adoption of any app, dApps have to go a long way in this aspect. Hence, it has to match the centralised apps in terms of network demand, and user-friendliness. Though this can be overcome by working with the right technology partner, many enterprises shy away from developing dApps because of their initial perception. In the case of dApps, the network is evenly distributed among millions of nodes and computers. This makes maintenance, debugging, and updates a difficult task. Moreover, the ability to modify the code and data published on the blockchain network comes as another challenge. However, the limitations seen in dApps can be overcome through many means, and partnering with a blockchain-focused firm is one of them.
Partnering with the right blockchain developer:
Designing and developing dApps comes with complexity. It requires the right set of experience with deep expertise in the blockchain domain. Therefore, collaborating with a blockchain-focused technology company that has already executed such projects for various sectors is a must. It not only improves the efficiency of the development process but also alleviates stress and uncertainty. As dApp is a new technology area, emerging blockchain firms with prior experience ease the process to a great extent. Enterprises should also look at blockchain development firms that can deliver superior customer experience in the dApps like centralised apps. Specialised players like Dhiway Networks have prior experience and deep domain expertise in the design, development, and maintenance of dApps across multiple sectors. Collaboration with Dhiway Networks, therefore, will provide a definitive competitive advantage to enterprises in the dApps space.