A smart contract is an application built on blockchain that is programmed to help transactions, especially business transactions, without involving a third party. It helps transactions like money exchange, service delivery, and different other digital transactions. What makes smart contracts stand out is their ability to eliminate intermediaries and make possible transactions that ordinarily would be possible on the blockchain. It helps enforce privacy and the release of protected data upon meeting the preset requirement.
There are diverse ways to program the structure of a smart contract; users can customize the development, distribution, management, and eventual updating of the contract. They are stored on the blockchain; however, there is room for storage on other similar distributed ledger technologies; the smart contracts can also be integrated with payment mechanisms like exchanges that could include other existing cryptocurrencies.
When you hear the smart name contract, it feels like a legally binding contract, that’s not true; smart contracts are not legally binding, there are only designed to help ensure requirements are met before, and after a transaction takes place, there’s no legal backing or legal steps that persecute defaulters. However, some legal steps are taken by both parties, like an agreement binding the execution of the contract.
Ethereum first introduced smart contracts to serve as an agreement for people. It is backed by computer codes and runs on blockchain technology. This means smart contracts are stored in a public database for every user to see, and they cannot be manipulated. This also means transactions are automatic without interference from a third party.
How Smart Contracts Work
According to Vitalik Buterin the functionality of smart contracts Involves digital assets and two or more parties, where some or all of the parties put assets in, and assets are automatically redistributed among those parties according to a formula based on specific data that is not known when the contract is initiated.
There is already a pre-programmed condition when it comes to the smart contract; once this condition is met, the contract is triggered. The primary aim of smart contracts is an attempt to remove the need for intermediaries in transactions altogether. So, transactions are automated, and the outcome is almost always specific without wasting time.
Here is an example of how it works, statements are first written into code on the blockchain. Once both parties involved in the transaction meet their end of the bargain, an automatic verification is triggered. The smart contract could involve realizing the fund to a receiver after the condition has been met, sending of notification, registering a car, issuing a receipt, and so on. The blockchain then automatically gets updated after the transaction is completed. Thanks to blockchain, these transactions cannot be changed or manipulated. Everybody, not just both parties but everyone involved in the transaction but the entire ecosystem, can view the transaction network. These transactions are mostly carried out by investors trading cryptocurrencies on Bitcoin code.
In a smart contract, you can customize it with lots of requirements and stipulate terms as needed, and both parties have to meet all these requirements before the smart contract flags the transaction as completed. To do this, the user needs to set the transaction and required data in the smart contract platform. These will serve as the rules that govern the transaction; the user also has to explore exceptions when needed and create a framework for settling disputes.
A programmer is in charge of programming the smart contract. However, the user can develop templates, a web interface, and the other tools needed for the smart contract.
Without a third party, smart contract is the closest to what we can get to ensure transactions are binding.