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Understanding blockchain finality

In a blockchain, a transaction’s or a block of transactions’ finality refers to its irrevocable confirmation.

Once a transaction has been validated under conventional financial systems, it cannot be reversed. Similar to this, achieving finality on a blockchain network guarantees that a transaction is irreversible and cannot be changed after being added to the blockchain. This idea is essential for the blockchain to be trustworthy and reliable.

The blockchain network uses consensus to achieve finality. Different blockchain networks use different consensus algorithms, each with a special way of confirming transactions and guaranteeing finality, such as proof-of-work (PoW), proof-of-stake (PoS), or realistic Byzantine fault tolerance.

Various blockchain finality types

Blockchain finality might be probabilistic, economic, instantaneous, unconditional, or connected to the blockchain’s current state as a whole.

There are varying levels of certainty and irreversibility for transactions and blocks on the blockchain, and each form of finality explains this to a different extent. On the blockchain, there are several primary finality types:

Probabilistic finality

For the most part, blockchain systems, especially those that use PoW consensus, like Bitcoin, consider finality to be probabilistic. When blocks are stacked on top of a verified transaction after it has been included in a block, the chance of undoing the transaction decreases rapidly.

Economic finality

The idea of economic finality is frequently connected to PoS systems. If turning back on a deal would be financially impossible, it is seen as having reached its economic finality. Validators or nodes are required to provide a stake—a certain amount of cryptocurrency—as collateral under PoS. It is economically illogical to act maliciously since they run the danger of losing their interest if they authorize fraudulent transactions.

Instant finality

As soon as a transaction is entered on the ledger, it is instantaneously confirmed and irrevocable because of the near-instant finality provided by the ripple network. 150 validators check transactions for accuracy. Ripple’s Unique Node List, which consists of 35 validators, may include these validators if they succeed in earning a seat on it.

Unconditional finality

An agreement is assumed to be fully and unconditionally final once it has been confirmed. Under no circumstances is the transaction reversible. Unconditional finality can be challenging to obtain and typically necessitates a high level of centralization or a novel consensus process.

State finality

Finality, which is not simply used to describe transactions in some blockchain systems, also describes the whole state of the blockchain. A state transition (a change in the blockchain’s state, such as a transaction or the performance of a smart contract) cannot be changed or undone after it has been completed. Acquiring state finality is crucial for applications like smart contracts, where the correctness of the whole application state is crucial.

Why finality matters in blockchain

The idea of finality is fundamental to the operation and dependability of blockchain technology since it offers the assurance of transaction validity and permanence that is required.

In order to ensure that a transaction cannot be altered or reversed once it has been confirmed, finality offers a high level of security and trust in the system. Finality avoids the problem of double spending, where the same digital asset can be utilized more than once, by ensuring that the transaction is valid and recorded on the blockchain.

Double spending may happen, for instance, if a user tries to send one Bitcoin (BTC) in two separate transactions to two distinct recipients. Blockchain technology avoids this by ensuring finality. The digital asset is judged to have been spent and is no longer available for use in further transactions once a transaction has been completed and posted on the blockchain.

When discussing smart contracts, finality is essential. In smart contracts, which are self-executing codes, the specifics of the agreement between the buyer and seller are explicitly incorporated. These contracts’ consequences are predictable and unchangeable, thanks to finality.

Furthermore, finality is the mechanism through which decentralized apps (DApps) ensure the security and reliability of their operations. Finality makes certain that choices and actions taken within these apps are unalterable and irrevocable. Furthermore, by making transactions final, the blockchain promotes confidence among users and network participants. Knowing that transactions are irrevocable helps users have more faith in the system.

Challenges to achieving finality in blockchain

Blockchain transactions are not able to reach finality because of problems including forking, network slowness, smart contract weaknesses, and 51% assaults.

Forking occurs when the blockchain separates into many routes, creating various iterations of the transaction history. This divergence puts the consensus process to the test, delays finality, and makes it difficult to determine which version is the true version.

Conflicts over protocol modifications, for instance, among developers or the community, might lead to hard forks. There might not be any resolution to the problem if various groups continue to favor PoW blockchains until then.

Additional complications arise from network latency, which is the delay in data transmission between nodes. As transaction information takes longer to spread across the blockchain network, slow network connections might result in problems in transaction order and validation.

A smart contract’s weakness could also lead to unexpected behavior, allowing malicious parties to exploit it and reverse transactions. The history of a PoW blockchain may also be altered, and transactions may be undone, by a party that controls more than half of the network’s mining power. Finality and security are compromised as a result.

Because of these issues, the integrity of the blockchain is in danger, necessitating the development of robust consensus algorithms and efficient network protocols in order to prevent forking and latency issues and ensure the timely and safe finality of transactions.

Techniques and consensus algorithms to enhance finality

Longer confirmation times, numerous validations, and advanced security algorithms like Algorand’s Pure PoS, delegated PoS (DPoS), and HoneyBadgerBFT may all contribute to improving blockchain finality.


In one method, confirmation durations are prolonged, allowing for more validations to be performed before a transaction is deemed complete. Longer consensus times significantly improve the likelihood that a transaction’s legality will be validated and become irreversible.

Additionally, employing the multiple confirmations approach, in which transactions are verified by several nodes or validators, adds another layer of security by guaranteeing a larger consensus and reducing the likelihood of errors or malicious attacks.

Furthermore, the industry has been completely revolutionized by cutting-edge consensus algorithms like Algorand’s Pure PoS, DPoS, and HoneyBadgerBFT. To guarantee swift and irrevocable finality for transactions, Algorand combines a PoS approach with a Byzantine agreement mechanism.

DPoS boosts the efficacy and finality of the network by introducing a reputation-based system in which a small number of trusted delegates validate transactions. Similar to this, the HoneyBadgerBFT technique enhances finality and security even in the presence of malicious nodes or network delays by attaining asynchronous Byzantine consensus.

Future trends and developments in achieving faster and more reliable finality

To reach faster and more trustworthy finality in the future, a multidisciplinary approach that integrates several consensus mechanisms, state-of-the-art encryption, and better interoperability is essential.

A trend in this area is the exposure of hybrid consensus models. These hybrid consensus algorithms combine the benefits of several consensus algorithms in an effort to improve efficiency and scalability while maintaining robust security. Since PoS techniques use a lot less energy than PoW techniques and have a faster confirmation time, projects have been experimenting with adding them.

Zero-knowledge (ZK) proofs and other sophisticated cryptographic techniques, as well as cutting-edge technologies like sharding, are also gaining popularity. Zero-knowledge proofs increase effectiveness and privacy by allowing parties to validate transactions without providing personal information. Sharding, a technique for breaking the blockchain up into smaller, more manageable pieces, reduces the computational load on nodes and speeds up transaction processing.

It may become unnecessary to design quantum-resistant algorithms as a result of the advent of quantum computing, which might render current encryption methods obsolete. Blockchain networks are currently researching quantum-resistant cryptographic solutions to ensure the security and finality of transactions in the face of quantum attacks.

Another area of focus is how different blockchains interact with one another. Through the use of protocols like Polkadot and Cosmos, transactions between networks can be completed quickly and seamlessly. This interoperability improves the overall effectiveness of blockchain systems, resulting in quicker and more trustworthy finality.




Dr. William Odion is a financial coach and consultant who specializes in Forex and Crypto trading. He is also an author, founder and CEO of Probaba EA Consults a.k.a Probabafx, and a brand influencer and real estate investor.

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