Are private blockchains intended to serve as testnets only or are there other applications?
What use cases can private blockchains be applied to?
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There are numerous use cases for private blockchains. Some of the many ones that are being currently considered in industry include:
For a discussion of the contrasting features and other reasons that motivate these types of use cases to consider private blockchains over public blockchains, see this question.
There is an Ethereum blog post that addresses this question. In a nutshell: