What are smart contracts?

Smart contracts are one subject matter that has grown to become very significant in the last couple of years. This technology is now the go-to tech solution for guaranteeing transparency and security for all participants engaging in an urgent binding agreement. What are smart contracts and how do they work? In this article, we explicitly explained everything there is to know about smart contracts and their uses across different industries. 

What are smart contracts?

Smart contracts are simply programs reserved on a blockchain that run when specific predetermined conditions are satisfied. Generally, people use them to automate the completion of an agreement so that all parties will be immediately sure of the outcome, without any involvement of an intermediary or time loss. Also, they can automate a workflow, activating the next action when certain conditions are fulfilled.

How do smart contracts work?

Consider smart contracts as virtual “if-then” statements between two (or more than two) participants. If one party’s needs are satisfied, then the contract can be honored, and the agreement is regarded as complete.

Let’s assume you request 100 bags of rice from a farmer and want to use a smart contract to execute the transaction. You will then lock funds into a smart contract that automatically gets approved when the farmer delivers. When the farmer delivers the bags of rice, the funds will instantly be released. 

However, the smart contract is terminated and funds are given back to you if the farmer disregards the deadline.

Of course, the situation described above is a small use case for the actual potential of smart contracts. They can even be programmed to labor for the masses, taking the place of governmental authorizations in retail dealings, among other numerous advantages. Also, smart contracts would likely remove the necessity for bringing some disagreements into court, which will save both groups time and money.

Step-by-step guide on how to build a smart contract

how to build a smart contract
how to build a smart contract

For people considering building a smart contract for business or other uses, here are the steps involved:

1. Identify the participants and establish the terms and conditions of the agreement

Identifying the participants involved in the contract and agreeing on the contract’s terms is the first step in building a smart contract. The conditions of the contract, the obligations of each participant involved, and the criteria for agreement execution will all be explicitly described in this contract.

2. Define the conditions for contract execution

The second stage is to stipulate the conditions that must be satisfied for the contract to automatically get executed. These conditions are generally defined as a set of criteria or rules that must be met for the contract to be regarded as valid.

3. Write the smart contract code

Step three involves writing the code for the smart contract. Essentially, this code will stipulate the precise steps that ought to be taken to complete the contract whenever the stipulated conditions are met.

4. Deploy the contract to a blockchain platform

The fourth stage is to deploy the contract on a blockchain platform. Basically, this involves validating the smart contract’s validity just by uploading the written code to the blockchain technology network.

5. Trigger the contract implementation automatically

The fifth phase is the smart contract’s execution. When the stipulated predetermined circumstances are met, the smart contract is automatically implemented, and the blockchain network triggers it.

6. Record the contract’s information on the blockchain ledger

The contract’s information is then recorded on the blockchain network when it gets implemented. This encompasses the terms of the smart contract, the conditions for execution, as well as the execution date and time. The specific details of the contract are immutable once they are written down in the blockchain ledger. Immutable means they cannot be removed or changed.

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Why are smart contracts important?

Essentially, smart contracts enable developers to create different kinds of decentralized apps and tokens. Also, they’re used in almost everything from new financial devices to providing quality logistics and game experiences, and they’re held on a blockchain just like any other regular crypto transaction. 

Once a developer adds a smart contract app to the blockchain, it typically can’t be reversed or changed, however, there are some exceptions.

What are the limitations of smart contracts?

What are the limitations of smart contracts
What are the limitations of smart contracts

Here are some of the limitations of smart contracts:

  • Since smart contracts can’t transmit HTTP queries, they can’t obtain information about “real-world” occurrences. This is by design.
  • Since smart contracts are relatively permanent, they cannot be altered if there are mistakes
  • Using external data could endanger consensus, which is crucial for guaranteeing security and decentralization.
  • Smart contracts rely on the programmer to provide the code that addresses the terms and conditions of the contract. Humans can make errors.  
  • There may be some loopholes and errors in the coding, authorizing the contracts to be implemented in bad faith.

What are the benefits of smart contracts?

Here are some significant benefits of smart contracts: 

1. Accuracy, speed, and efficiency

  • The contract is instantly executed when the conditions are met.
  • Since smart contracts are solely digital and automated, the participants would not have any paperwork to deal with
  • Because there is no paperwork to deal with, no time will be spent correcting mistakes that can happen when filling out the documentation by hand.

2. Security

  • Since blockchain transaction records are typically encrypted, they are very difficult to hack.
  • Also, since each entry added to a distributed ledger is connected to the other entries before and after it, hackers will need to alter the full chain to modify a single record.

3. Trust and Transparency

  • Encrypted transaction logs are traded among the participants involved.
  • There’s no need to bother about information being altered for personal or ulterior gain because there’s no third player engaged in the contract.

4. Savings

  • Smart contracts remove the need for mediators to execute transactions. It also removes the fees and time delays that come with them.

What are some use cases of smart contracts?

Discussed below are some cases where smart contracts can be used:

a. Real estate 

A smart contract can be substituted for a broker, simplifying the house transfer and acquisition process while guaranteeing it’s just as safe and secure as when there’s an intermediary.

Let’s say the deed to your property is tokenized on the Ethereum blockchain and you want to sell it. You just have to create a smart contract with the prospective buyer. Essentially, the contract would carry the house deed in escrow until the prospective buyer’s funds for the purchase are fully submitted. So both party wins. 

You save money, as you don’t have to employ the service of an intermediary, and the buyer acquires the property immediately after the funds are paid in full.

b. Digital Identify 

In a blockchain-centered future, identities will become tokenized. Typically, this would imply that each individual’s identity is held on a blockchain, safe and protected from hackers. Now, if an individual wants to sign up on social media platforms or submit documents to a financial institution for loan purposes, they can benefit from the former and regulate the whole transaction process in the latter.

For social media, no mediator regulates a network. Rather, users decide on what information to make public and the ones to maintain private. If they want to partake in information exchange, such as an endorsement, they can easily build a smart contract and select what data can be transacted, instead of simply gleaning everything about the user. Since an intermediary isn’t there to collect some of the funds or privately store and sell that sensitive data, only the user will profit from that transaction.

The same goes for when an individual wants to deal with banks or other financial institutions. Communication will just involve sending needed documents and important information over. There’s no danger of a loan group holding your email address or phone number and selling the information to other credit companies. That private information is entirely under the individual’s control.

c. Insurance

Insurance policies can benefit greatly from smart contracts. Basically, signing up for an insurance policy would automatically add the user to a smart contract with the insurance provider. All the policy conditions would be documented on the smart contract, which the user would look over and sign if they approve of it.

That contract would then remain open until the liable participant needs it. Then, they’d just upload the necessary forms that confirm their need for the insurance payment and the funds would automatically be released. 

This kind of contract takes away the need for speaking with the insurance groups and individuals involved l. Although the user would still require paperwork to verify their requirements, the ensuing submission and funding process will be almost instant.

d. Supply chain

The supply chain sector is arguably one of the most popular industries in which smart contracts and blockchain technology are implemented. Supermarkets, office warehouses, farmers, and more parties all have their precise place in a supply chain.

But with how complicated these broad networks are becoming, organizations are finding it more difficult to track product possession and follow payments, among many other issues. Smart contracts can help to automate and incentivize all aspects of the supply chain to improve their accountability.

Does Bitcoin Have Smart Contracts?

How to invest in DeFi

Bitcoin can easily support smart contracts on protocols, like the Lightning Network, which depends on multi-signature transactions known as hashed time-locked contracts (HTLCs). Essentially, HTLCs enable low-cost and immediate Bitcoin micropayments and guarantee that participants involved in routing payments get a small fee without compromising the safety of the funds.

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Can smart contracts be created without coding?

Yes, smart contracts can be created without coding by using different smart contract development platforms that offer user-friendly templates and interfaces. Essentially, these platforms offer drag-and-drop user-friendly interfaces and visual editors that allow users to instantly and simply formulate smart contracts without the necessity for programming expertise.

Ultimately, smart conditions-powered contracts are certainly the best way forward for creating simple agreements without the need for intermediaries. Essentially, it ensures that basic contracts can be written and implemented automatically whenever the set pre-conditions are fulfilled. Different smart contract platforms will really save companies a lot of time and money while also transforming how they interact with their customers and the supply chain. 

As the best crypto exchange app in Nigeria, Bitmama offers a secure marketplace for crypto enthusiasts. Perform activities like crypto exchange, crypto staking, and creating virtual dollar or crypto cards for limitless international payment. Get started today by downloading the Bitmama app.


Emmanuel Agwu

Sep 25, 2023

8 mins read

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