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Smart Contract

A smart contract is a self-executing contract with the terms of agreement directly written into code, and deployed in a Blockchain.

Smart contracts are computer programs that facilitate, verify, or enforce the negotiation or performance of an agreement. They allow for trusted transactions and agreements to be carried out among disparate, anonymous parties without the need for a central authority, legal system, or external enforcement mechanism. They render transactions traceable, transparent, and irreversible through the use of blockchain.

Smart contracts were first proposed by computer scientist and cryptographer Nick Szabo in 1994. Szabo introduced the concept in a paper titled "Smart Contracts: Building Blocks for Digital Markets." In his work, he described the idea of self-executing contracts with the terms of the agreement directly written into code. These contracts would automatically execute when specific conditions were met, without requiring intermediaries.

The concept of smart contracts laid the groundwork for the development of blockchain technology, particularly the Ethereum blockchain. Ethereum, created by Vitalik Buterin and launched in 2015, is a decentralized platform that enables the creation and execution of smart contracts. While Nick Szabo's initial proposal was not implemented on a blockchain, it served as a significant inspiration for the development of smart contracts as we know them today.


Online betting platform that uses smart contracts.

  1. Two friends, Alice and Bob, want to bet on the outcome of a football game. They write a smart contract on the Ethereum blockchain, specifying that if Team A wins, Alice will receive $50 from Bob, and if Team B wins, Bob will receive $50 from Alice.
  2. The contract is then deployed to the Ethereum network. Once the game ends, a trusted sports news API sends the game result to the contract. The contract automatically executes and sends the money to the winner based on the rules defined in the contract.
  3. The rules are predefined and cannot be changed once deployed, making the bet fair and free of disputes. The smart contract automatically enforces the bet, without needing a third party.

Insurance Claim Processing using Smart Contracts

Let's consider an insurance company that offers a policy for flight delay compensation. The traditional process to claim compensation can be cumbersome, involving the passenger filing a claim after the delay and then waiting for the insurance company to verify the information and process the claim, which could take several weeks.

With smart contracts, this process can be automated and sped up.

  1. The terms of the insurance policy can be written into a smart contract and deployed on the blockchain.
  2. The smart contract can be connected to trusted external data sources (Oracles) like flight data APIs.
  3. When a policyholder purchases a policy, a new smart contract instance is created with the details.
  4. If a flight is delayed beyond the defined terms in the policy, the Oracle triggers the smart contract automatically, and the payout to the policyholder is initiated immediately, without the need for the policyholder to file a claim manually.

This not only simplifies the process but also makes it transparent and increases trust in the system, as the terms are pre-agreed, immutable, and the execution is automatic.


Blockchain and Technology
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