This article will explain what on-chain data is, how to view it, and why it's relevant for providing customer support to your web3 community.
Before we jump in, for anyone new to crypto or web3, here's a brief overview explaining what a blockchain is.
In short, a blockchain is a digital ledger that enables information to be recorded, synchronized, and publicly validated. Blockchains have several benefits, including decentralization, transparency and immutability (no one can tamper with the records).
The decentralization characteristic of blockchain networks ensures complete transparency and security of the data.
'On-chain' data refers to all data natively stored on a blockchain. Anyone can view this on-chain data using the right tools, given the transparent nature of blockchain technology.
This on-chain data includes (but is not limited to):
Off-chain data is all other information that is not recorded and stored on a blockchain.
In an ideal world, all relevant information could be stored on-chain; however, this isn't possible with current technology. The perfect blockchain would have three elements: security, decentralization, and scalability. However, finding a balance between the three is complex and presents a problem referred to as the blockchain trilemma. Typically, to improve one of the three elements (security, decentralization, and scalability), another must be de-prioritized. As such, reducing the amount of information that goes onto the blockchain itself (on-chain data) helps improve the scalability of a blockchain.
A typical example of this includes the visual elements of a non-fungible token (NFT). Although a link to the NFT picture would be stored on-chain, it's very rare to store the image file itself on-chain due to the amount of storage space it would take.
Any data stored off-chain within a traditional database does not benefit from the blockchain's decentralized, immutable or permissionless features. Control over these off-chain databases remains in the hands of the administrators and could be deleted or changed. Solutions to help address the blockchain trilemma are being worked on, but for now, for many web3 businesses, there will generally be elements of off-chain as well as on-chain data to consider.
Unlike public or permissionless blockchains like Bitcoin or Ethereum, it's worth noting that not all blockchains are built with web3 principles, such as transparency, at their core. It would only be possible to read or write on a private blockchain with the correct permission. An example of a private blockchain could be an internal company blockchain used to help manage its supply chain.
On-chain data can be viewed in several ways. If you are tech-savvy, you could run a node; however, this isn't practical for the majority of projects/individuals. The most common way to view this data and 'read' the blockchain is by using an interface called a 'block explorer'.
In a similar way that web browsers allow users to view webpages in a human-readable format vs. just code, block explorers allow users to navigate and view blockchains. Another analogy to help understand block explorers is to compare them to search engines, such as Google. You can search and extract on-chain data easily using a block explorer. For example, searching for a crypto wallet address or a specific transaction ID.
There is still limited interoperability between blockchains, which means each blockchain usually requires its own block explorer. For example, you couldn't use a Bitcoin block explorer to try and view an Ether (ETH) transaction and vice versa, as they are different blockchains.
Here is a short list of some of the most widely used block explorers:.
Other ways you could explore on-chain data would be to use platforms like Dune (https://dune.com/browse/dashboards), where users can create SQL queries and then present the data graphically.
If you have a specific wallet address you want to view or a blockchain transaction ID you can head over to a relevant block explorer for the blockchain you want to query and then view or explore the results.
The problem with this though is that block explorer data often isn't presented in a reader-friendly way.
You need to have a good understanding of blockchain technology or, in some-cases, understand smart contract code (e.g., solidity) to understand what exactly is going on and what information is relevant - making block explorers hard to navigate for most.
Moreover, in the context of customer support, the act of going to a block explorer in the first place can be a huge time waste and result in significant lost productivity. It’s a problem known as ‘context switching’. Even if some people are better at multitasking than others, it’s hard to argue with the research data on context switching. It’s been shown that regular context switching can decrease productivity by 40%. To put that in perspective, lost productivity due to context switching is estimated to cost the global economy $450 billion dollars annually! Using a tool like Mava to provide customer support stops your team needing to switch between different tools like block explorers, because Mava can present tailored and relevant on-chain data natively within the chat interface. Within the Mava dashboard this data is presented in an intuitive and user friendly way, unlike many stand alone block explorers.
Viewing real-time on-chain data is hugely beneficial when providing customer support, whether you're a decentralized exchange (DEX), an NFT project, building wallet infrastructure or a blockchain-enabled game.
To help illustrate this point, if you reach out to a company such as Amazon due to a problem with an order, Amazon will be able to see your order ID and quickly be able to investigate the issue. Within web3, checking on-chain data is the equivalent of Amazon checking an order ID.
Let's say your organization is building a web3 game with NFTs. You may want to quickly be able to view all of your NFTs that the user requesting support has in their wallet. Or for example, if you run an NFT lending protocol, you might want to check whether a user has enough native tokens in their wallet for the transaction they are having a problem with. There are endless more examples…
Suppose you need to check on-chain data to provide customer support. First, you need to manually request information from users, such as their wallet address or transaction ID, and then dig around on block explorers to find the information you need. This isn't efficient as it requires context switching and manually requesting information from users, which wastes time and increases the amount of effort required to solve issues.
Using Mava, all relevant information can be automatically requested from the users via our powerful automations. Moreover, you can then view relevant on-chain data natively within the Mava customer support Dashboard.
Public blockchains are built on principles of decentralization, immutability and permissionlessness. On-chain data refers to all data that is stored on a blockchain. You can search for on-chain data by using a block explorer; however, information is often structured in a way that isn't user-friendly. Moreover, lots of unnecessary information is included that the user needs to be able to sift out.
There are many use cases for using on-chain data within the context of customer support, whether it understands a user's previous transaction history or their wallet balance.
Requesting information from a user manually, such as their wallet address or transaction ID, before answering a support query wastes time and results in a worse support experience for the end user. Moreover, having to switch between different chat platforms and block explorers trying to figure out what's going on wastes time and lowers productivity.
Mava enables you to automatically gather on-chain data from a user in a privacy-centric way - streamlining support queries and improving your community's overall support experience.
If you have any questions about on-chain data or providing customer support for your web3 community, then feel free to reach out to the Mava team.