The blockchain technology has spread throughout the whole e-commerce industry. Cryptocurrency payments are not a pleasant novelty but a demanded feature nowadays. Despite some skepticism around this new technology, the blockchain ecosystem is growing. New exciting technologies and application areas appear every month. So the old blockchain implementations get more and more popular. Have a look at the rapidly growing Bitcoin blockchain size:
What is blockchain data?
Blockchain is often used as an epithet for cryptocurrencies. While cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are based on blockchain technologies, they are not the same thing. Blockchain can be conceptualized as a ledger like a card that a game player keeps. However, what makes it different from the simple accounting method is that information is spread between all users and encrypted. There is no single ledger-keeper that makes it both independent of any centralized body.
Hash encryption also provides a great deal of privacy and makes it incredibly hard to hack. The hack resistance comes from the fact that in order to successfully do so, you would need a ridiculous amount of raw hardware processing power. So much so, that it would be more profitable to use it, to facilitate cryptocurrency transactions instead.
So while cryptocurrencies remain to be the main thrust, there are many other applications of this unique technology. As you can imagine, there are many other applications for decentralized and secure online ledgers. They facilitate online contracts, logistical networks, or banking. Blockchain is also a perfect fit for some governance-related uses. Voting or medical records – any sensitive information can be accounted for using blockchain.
What is blockchain ecosystem?
Generally, when the term blockchain ecosystem is used, it stands for:
- Cryptocurrencies themselves;
- Transaction facilitators like wallet and payment services;
- Infrastructure providers like mining and data storage;
- Crowdfunding, exchanges, trading and investment markets;
- Security identification and authentication;
- Other blockchain solutions for E-governance, contract making, logistics, etc.;
- Blockchain software developers;
Competition in these sectors is highly encouraged by the blockchain community as a whole. A lot of competing services are necessary to build a robust decentralized economy around blockchain. If you still wonder whether your project needs a blockchain implementation of some sort, we have a whole article dedicated to this topic.
Software development for cryptocurrency support is a big deal. Fortunately, blockchain APIs can eliminate the necessity of creating an entire cryptocurrency system. This approach saves a significant amount of your time. How to pick the best one? Which aspects to consider? Let’s find the most suitable API provider, specifically for your needs.
What is API used for?
Application programming interface or API is an interface between different user applications. For instance, an app that lets you buy tickets online, books a hotel, get a cab, or check an exchange rate probably uses a specific API. An API communicates the request to a server that holds the required data and brings the result back to your phone.
APIs are used extensively in software development nowadays, most notably for mobile and web apps.
What is blockchain API exactly?
It is an interface that communicates with a blockchain node or a client network directly or through another service. A good blockchain API example would be an interface between a Bitcoin exchange and a user application that gathers data from it.
What is API in cryptocurrency?
APIs are used in many areas related to cryptocurrencies. There are APIs for transactions, market trading, account management, analytics, and security. The last one especially has become important since a popular crypto exchange Binance was hacked with a catastrophic outcome. About $42M was stolen in a single transaction.
Binance and other crypto companies took immediate measures to safeguard their clients. However, the incident showed just how important security is in this day and age. When it comes to APIs, security is paramount. So defer using publicly available popular APIs to well-known developers when possible.
Why are APIs important?
API technology is essential for cryptocurrencies. A large part of its value comes from an ability to use it as a private and secure online transaction method. So, in turn, it depends mainly on privacy and security, provided by API. Another factor is ease of use. No one is going to use a transaction method that has a long and laborious transaction completion process for day to day operations.
Another significant area refers to crypto trading. The reason for that is because Bitcoin and other coins are treated as stock market security or a commodity. So to make a good profit on trading it, you need the maximum amount of information. Most crypto exchanges have their own APIs.
There are also data aggregators that gather info from those exchanges and pass it down to users through their own API. Also, to finish it off, there are crowdfunding and investment platforms or ICOs that also provide an API to their clients.
What to pay attention to when searching for the best blockchain API
The blockchain community is swiftly increasing as well as a diversity of decent APIs for blockchain developers. Your preferences may vary, depending on technology, project scale, and budget. Let’s address three crucial points you should take into account in the first place.
API technology overview
Each developer prefers specific libraries, architecture patterns, programming languages more than the others. There is a large blockchain community that produces tons of open-source software. They generally share the idea that the best security in our day and age comes from an open-source code because it can get perfected and tested by everyone.
Blockchain-based projects you should include to your system
The majority of online stores accept Bitcoin as the only available cryptocurrency payment method. Almost every respected API aims to support Bitcoin transactions only. However, few of them support alternative coins. Whether you plan to use Ethereum, Ripple or any other cryptocurrency, please check if the API of your choice has functionality for it.
What is Ethereum coin?
Ethereum has been getting much notoriety recently. Also, for a good reason. It allows building solutions not only for crypto trading but for smart contracts as well. It was the first of its class and is still by far the biggest one. Smart contracts not only facilitate trading. They allow building applications on blockchain called Dapps (or decentralized apps). Smart contracts also facilitate dealmaking and many other blockchain implementations.
Smart contracts and Dapps are essential as they allow operating entire logistical networks. Blockchain technologies make logistics more automated, safe, secure, and robust. Check for more if you want to learn about blockchain technologies in logistics.
You often hear the media describing Ethereum as a global supercomputer of the future. However, there is hardly any merit to it, apart from the name similarity. At the moment, processing large amounts of data over the Ethereum network would be hugely inefficient as it is both slow and expensive. Although that might be subject to change in the future. For now, Ethereum has many other exciting application areas.
Different applications require different performance levels. Some blockchain APIs proceed with several transactions per second. While other ones are capable of creating hundreds of records in the same amount of time. Generally, blockchain technologies are slower and less productive than non-blockchain ones. However, as always, it’s a tradeoff. In return, you get unparalleled security and robustness.
Learn more about the main stages of product development lifecycle to build a sustainable product.
The top 9 blockchain API providers in 2020
We’ve created this list by choosing the most productive, trusted, secure, and scalable products. Here they are, the five API titans.
Coinbase API is a flexible and secure tool. It supports Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, and Ethereum. Coinbase provides excellent wallet services with constant notifications about every transaction. The API technology is based on Node.js.
Coinbase is popular due to the ability of cryptocurrency integration with existing applications. With it, you can have crypto functionality in an old app instead of discarding it and starting a new one.
Coinbase tools are free to use and have an hourly limit of 10,000 requests. There is also a premium option, CoinbasePro, with a more advanced API. It has many exciting features, including Programmatic trading.
Summing it all up, this API is about:
- Decent transaction support;
- Integration with existing apps;
- Sufficient security;
- Multiple cryptocurrency support.
Furthermore, Bitcore is a full node, so applications on its API run on the P2P network. This means an incredible performance (over 500 transactions per second). Bitcore productivity makes it one of the best blockchain API for scaling projects. Its potential for excellent performance makes it somewhat futureproof. It eliminates any worries about the need for significant redevelopment in the non-distant future.
To sum up, Bitcore API is all about:
- Peer-to-peer network;
- Modular architecture;
- Insane performance level compared to similar APIs.
Blockchain API is a perfect solution for implementing the cryptocurrency payment functionality. With a community of over 25,000 developers, the Blockchain API technology is considered to be the oldest and the most popular one. Blockchain has APIs for wallets, payment processing, blockchain exploration, and simple text query. They also provide WebSockets, market data API.
Blockchain API stores data on blocks and transactions in JSON format. It has low timeouts, and it operates using wallets only. This avoids the need for additional cryptocurrency storage.
On balance, this Blockchain API is competitive because of:
- Vast developer community;
- Low timeouts;
- Accessible JSON data format;
- Access for operations via e-wallet accounts.
Factom is a company offering a truly innovative solution that goes by the brand name Harmony Connect. It offers services for data storage on its Blockchain. This is helpful when you need to record tamperproof data for prolonged periods of time. Their API has good integration with existing software. Factom blockchain can also run smart contracts. Another nice feature of their blockchain is tokenization. You can create tokens that represent real-world assets and trade them over the network. Factom seems like a solution that can be very popular in the near future.
Factom API has:
- No speed restrictions;
- Integration with existing software;
- Tamperproof timestamped data storage;
- Secure Exchange;
- Smart contacts.
5. Web3.js Ethereum API
Web3.js is the primary API for the Ethereum network; however, to use it, you would need to run your own Ethereum client. You also can use Infura hosting instead. It has wallet support, autogenerates wrappers for smart contracts from native java code. It has support for both ERC20 and ERC721 token standards.
Its features are:
- There is a right amount of documentation and extensions for it;
- It’s free;
- You have to run your node to use it.
6. Infura Ethereum API
However, there is another way, especially if you plan to use Infura client for a node. You can use an Infura Ethereum API instead. Infura is one of the biggest blockchain service providers today – it offers a robust, scalable solution for a client infrastructure in the Ethereum network. It is useful for decentralized apps and also has other uses. Infura also provides a backend API to connect apps through HTTP and WebSockets to Ethereum network IPFS storage.
Infura is responsible for providing access to Ethereum to approx 60% of all apps, including a popular Cryptokitties. We have already conducted a concise case study of the Criptocittes app in our blog post.
Some of the main features of Infura Ethereum API include:
- It is running on Amazon servers and is always online;
- It’s easy to use;
- Has a developer dashboard;
- Has proper documentation and support;
- It is free for less than 100 000 requests per day;
- It has access to the Ethereum archive node for premium clients.
7. Nomics API
Nomics is a trade data aggregation platform with its free API for all your trading needs. The main feature of Nomics is the use of raw trade data. Instead of using candle data from trades, this API tries to get raw trade data and then calculate candles or tickers from it if needed. It provides more accuracy of the data, especially from less trusted crypto exchanges.
It also helps to detect some forms of trading data manipulation like ticker stuffing and valium spamming. This data aggregator collects orders and trades data from 13 different crypto exchanges. It also has access to historical data for all your in-depth analysis needs.
Nomics API has such features, as:
- It’s free;
- Data set includes Price, market cap, supply, and all-time high data;
- Good documentation;
- Gapless raw trade data incl. Historical data.
8. Tierion’s Chainpoint
Tierion provides a curious solution called Chainpoint. This API allows you to make incomparable timestamps in the blockchain linked to a file you have. This timestamp can’t be removed or tampered with. It can be useful for legal reasons, for instance, to prove IP or timestamp a piece of research or to create an audit trail. Many apps are getting developed using this API. This technology is new. But there are cases already of using blockchain anchoring as evidence in court successfully.
Tierion has the following features:
- Allows you to run your own validation node;
- Ethereum only;
- Node.js+RocksDB tech stack.
9. ICObench Data API
Another important application of blockchain technology is crowdfunding or ICO. The most significant and essential ICO platform is ICObench. This platform has its API available to premium customers. This API allows clients to get ICO listings, stats ratings, and some other data directly from the platform itself. However, it is only available to premium customers.
Data itself can be used for notifications or to run analytics. If you want to find out more about ICO, we suggest you read our article on the subject.
ICO Bench has the following features:
- Premium clients only;
- Provides stats, ratings, listings;
- Has filters.
To wrap it up
Sometimes finding the most suitable blockchain API is a real challenge. A variety of different products bewilders developers as each API offers unique features and functionality. Different performance, security levels, and multiple cryptocurrencies support require careful consideration.
In this article, we have listed the most popular and respected blockchain APIs in the modern FinTech world. Some of them offer splendid performance, while others focus on providing superior security. In the end, the choice of blockchain technology should be based on your specifications, demands, and planned scale.
Don’t get us wrong. We don’t insist on making you pick an API from the list of the ones described above. These examples show the necessary standards and requirements for high-quality APIs. While making a decision, assess your opportunities, and you won’t have any issues with this responsible choice.
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