Composition of blockchain value chain

In the ten years since the publication of the Bitcoin whitepaper, an entire industry has evolved around crypto-asset systems to build and maintain basic infrastructure as well as to facilitate the use of the platforms and their assets. However, there are 4 key blockchain industry segments that we cover in this article.

Source: Cambridge 2nd Global crypto-assets benchmark study


Actors of this segment are called miners. They operate blockchain nodes (computing hardwares connected to the blockchain) and perform specific operations for the processing (validation + writing) of transactions. New units of crypto-assets can be created and distributed during these operations.


Once crypto-assets have been created and assigned to an address, they can be moved by their owners. To do so, they must use their private keys to prove their own them and thus sign new transactions, and specify a new address (therefore, a new owner) for the crypto-assets.

Note that strictly speaking, crypto-assets are not stored anywhere. There are simply associated to addresses under the unspent transaction output model (UTXO). It’s private keys associated to those addresses that are stored by owners.

Private keys can be stored in a series of different types of wallets: mobile wallets, web wallets, desktop wallets, tablet wallets, vault services, or hardware wallets.


Exchanges simplify the process of dealing with crypto-assets for the average user. One does not need to operate a blockchain node or to know some to buy or sell them. The user simply has to put target crypto-assets buy or sell orders in exchange for fiat or other crypto-assets. This defines the trading pairs of exchanges markets.

There are various activities players from this segment undertake to facilitate trades: brokerage services, order-book exchanges, OTC desks, advanced trading services, decentralized exchanges, or crypto-assets ATMs.


Payment service providers act as gateways to facilitate the use of cryptoassets for payments of all kind. They develop and maintain multiple services targeting different payment types and different users.

Merchant services process payments on behalf of crypto-asset-accepting merchants.

C2C cross-border payment services usually make use of crypto-assets for cross-border money transfer, usually initiated by expatriates to their home countries.

B2B cross-border payment services make use of payment platforms to facilitate international transfer of funds between businesses.

Other types of services include micropayments, consumer payments, bill payment services and machine-to-machine (M2M) payments.

For more information, please refer to the following report:

Check the full version of Blockchain Quarterly (Q1 2019) report for more Insights.

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