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Blockchain as IoT Economy Enabler: A Review of Architectural Aspects (01a Articolo in rivista)

Pennino D., Pizzonia M., Vitaletti A., Zecchini M.

In the IoT-based economy, a large number of subjects (companies, public bodies, or private citizens) are willing to buy data or services offered by subjects that provide, operate, or host IoT devices. To support economic transactions in this setting, and to pave the way for the implementation of decentralized algorithmic governance powered by smart contracts, the adoption of the blockchain has been proposed both in scientific literature and in actual projects. The blockchain technology promises a decentralized payment system independent of (and possibly cheaper than) conventional electronic payment systems. However, there are a number of aspects that need to be considered for an effective IoT–blockchain integration. In this review paper, we start from a number of real IoT projects and applications that (may) take advantage of blockchain technology to support economic transactions. We provide a reasoned review of several architectural choices in light of typical requirements of those applications and discuss their impact on transaction throughput, latency, costs, limits on ecosystem growth, and so on. We also provide a survey of additional financial tools that a blockchain can potentially bring to an IoT ecosystem, with their architectural impact. In the end, we observe that there are very few examples of IoT projects that fully exploit the potential of the blockchain. We conclude with a discussion of open problems and future research directions to make blockchain adoption easier and more effective for supporting an IoT economy.
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