Choosing a Staking Provider comes with quite an effort and research. You should consider a few criteria to make sure you make the best choice in accordance with your expectations and objectives. There are many options when it comes to staking providers (SP), so choose wisely before you stake your EGLD
First things first: what is Staking?
In the cryptocurrency world, staking refers to “locking up” a digital asset by “staking” it, agreeing to hold it in a wallet on a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) blockchain network. By agreeing to stake some or all of your holdings, you help ensure that the blockchain on which the assets are staked, operates correctly and securely.
In exchange for helping to secure a PoS blockchain network, participants who stake their coins receive a share in the block reward in the form of newly minted coins. Staking is an integral part of a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus mechanism and is designed as an alternative to Proof-of-Work that maintains the long-term security and reliability of a protocol.
Simply put, if you own some cryptocurrencies, you can “lock” them for securing the blockchain and get rewards in return. So, in the long run, you can earn a lot of coins. This is one of the easiest ways to have a passive income from staking crypto.
There are 3 ways of staking
You become a Validator
You create a node with at least 2500 EGLD locked in a system SmartContract (this is the minimum limit for creating a node until phase 4). The nodes are important for the Elrond network because they validate the transactions and they assure the efficiency and security of the network. The nodes are required to run on secure, reliable, and high-performing servers 24/7.
In order to stake a node, you need to have a significant amount of EGLD and you need to assure the nodes have 100% uptime, are installed on very secure servers, and run the latest software version on the mainnet. A freshly stacked node is not producing rewards immediately. It is added to a queue. Note that in staking Phase 3.5 there is a maximum of 3200 nodes in the entire network, so only when a node from these 3200 becomes jailed, or someone unstakes a node, there is the possibility that your node can become eligible.
If a validator has poor performance, the network will jail it, which means that it will no longer be able to participate in consensus, nor will it produce rewards. The node must be unjailed before it can resume its role as a validator.
This way of staking is highly unaffordable for most people due to the pretty high amount of EGLD needed.
You become a Staking-as-a-Service Provider
To become an SP you’ll need 1250 EGLD to start a smart contract and be able to accept staking from anyone. A node will be added to the queue once the staked sum reaches 2500 EGLD (1250 EGLD from initial SC + 1250 from outside staking). Note that the initial 1250 EGLD are locked as a network warranty and can’t be unstaked until all the delegators' funds are withdrawn and the initial SC is closed.
You will also need to run nodes in the same manner as a Validator + you’ll need to manage the Delegation System Smart Contract.
As this way of staking is still unaffordable for most people, and it’s not as easy to maintain the nodes without some technical background experience and constant efforts, you may consider the third way of staking which is the most accessible one.
You can stake your EGLD with a staking provider
This way, you are able to delegate your tokens to existing nodes operators and professional validators (staking providers) who accept delegations. They take care of the technical aspect of the staking process, which is the reason why the platform charges a fee - usually a percentage of the staking rewards.
The minimum amount of eGold that you can stake to any staking provider is 1 EGLD. Thus, it is accessible to everyone.
Now, what you should take into account when choosing a Staking Provider
We know that usually, you may refer to it as “a staking agency” but we choose to call it “Staking Provider”, as this is the correct naming.
There are a few key points:
Other key info you need to know
Staking is non-custodial. No one has access to your funds.
That means that no Staking Provider you choose to stake your digital assets with will have access to your funds or to your private key. Also, the provider has no control or influence over the funds. The staking process will run securely through a smart contract using the Maiar app or Elrond web wallet. The Staking Provider operates the technical part so that you can be stress-free from it. The charge for that is the SP (staking provider) service fee which is already included in the APR displayed in the Maiar app or on the Elrond Web Wallet.
The staking can be done by anyone through the Maiar app or Elrond Web Wallet.
The top-up and the queue list
The system is done in a way that a Staking Provider can start with an initial fund of 1250 EGLD (valid for Phase 3.5) and be open to accepting staking from anyone. When the amount of 2500 EGLD is reached, the first node becomes active and enters the queue list. As more EGLD enters in the contract, this EGLD will become top-up. When the amount of 5000 EGLD is reached, the second node could be activated if the SP wishes to activate more nodes (entering the queue list) or can remain as a top-up if the SP doesn't wish to activate more nodes. And this process can continue in the same way for the following nodes. It is worth mentioning that for every EGLD that is staked on a queue node that stake doesn’t produce reward therefore the SP’s APR is significantly diminished.
Capped vs uncapped Staking Providers
Any Staking Provider should maintain some top-up in order to safely operate their service. The top-up acts as a buffer - in case some users unstake their funds - the Staking Provider should have enough stake not to lose nodes.
The Staking Providers that have capped their staking don’t accept any more staking from other EGLD holders once their cap has been reached. They do this in order to maintain a relatively higher APR for the delegators by keeping a lower top-up per node.
For the Staking Providers that go with an unlimited cap, the APR can go down if more and more users stake their coins, because the Top Up APR comes with a small penalty to incentivize SP to care for more nodes thus contributing to a stronger and more secure network. However, since Phase 3.5 the Top Up APR and Base APR have been adjusted not to make such a big difference, helping the small SPs to catch up with the rest of the top SPs, helping the network decentralization.
The first 2500 staked EGLD to a single node is considered Base Stake, what is extra is considered Top Up stake.
As you can see, there’s a fine equilibrium that any Staking Provider should be able to achieve respecting his own business model by choosing the right amount of top-up per node or going uncapped.
It must be borne in mind that the network APR is a variable thing, depending on the total network stake and on the yearly issuance percentage/transactions volume. So the correlation is as follows:
The Staking Providers APR is tightly correlated with the network APR and also with each provider's interest and strategy.
Helping the decentralization
Thinking long term, any of us should have decentralization as our first goal because this guarantees us a fundamental and essential principle of the blockchain. Without this, the blockchain no longer makes sense. This means we encourage anyone to stake with small and trusted/reliable Staking Providers. DYOR (Do Your Own Research) to find out the SP that meets your needs.
All of these being said, you can be sure that now you know what to check when choosing a staking provider. Also, you found out that staking is non-custodial, even if you stake with a rogue SP, being a non-custodial service no one has access to your funds. All the damage that can be done is just the waiting time for the unstake period (10 days).
If you read so far and you are not a beginner anymore, not new in staking / or when you feel ready and are up for a bigger challenge there is always the next level: Staking-as-a-Service Provider. You can upgrade your IT skills and join the trailblazers: the validators’ team.
Any choice that you make on the staking provider must be documented, first.
In this article, we will talk about blockchain technology in very basic terms. There are a lot of sources that talk about blockchain and ledgers, about how decentralized currencies have the power of changing the future, about how “the ship has sailed” on becoming rich with Bitcoin, and how the word “trust” has gained power again. But what do all these actually mean?
It’s no surprise that the word “blockchain” made a fuss in the past years and it has become more and more fascinating to people all around the world. And not only that, but the blockchain is already disrupting the financial system. So it’s time to look at it responsibly.
First things first: what is a blockchain?
As the name says it pretty obviously, a blockchain is a chain of blocks.
Each block contains 3 things: a bunch of data, the hash of the block, and the hash of the previous block.
The data stored on the block can be almost anything, depending on the type of the blockchain. If we talk about money, we’re talking about transaction records, but it can be any other type of data: pictures, links, information about a specific topic. For the sake of the article, we will focus on the history of transactions. It can store the following details: the sender, the amount of the transaction, and the receiver of the amount. For example, Anna sends 100 dollars to Alex. This is only one of all the transactions on that list. You can also check the topic of the smart contracts, as they are also part of this data that can be stored on the blockchain. Transactions are exchanges of coins based on some conditions that make them storable on the blockchain.
Ok, getting back to the other elements of a block, let’s move on to the hash. The hash is actually an encrypted digital fingerprint. This means it’s unique, just like a fingerprint. It’s calculated as soon as the block it’s created, and if there are modifications to this block, the hash will change.
The third element, which is the hash of the previous block, creates the chain of blocks that’s making the blockchain secure.
Let’s say that we have 10 blocks in the chain: each block has a hash and the hash of the previous block. The only block which doesn’t have a hash of the previous block it’s, of course, the first-ever created block, which it's called the “Genesis Block”.
Well, if the hash of a block has been changed after it was validated by everyone, all of the following blocks will become invalid. And this is because they no longer store a valid hash of the previous blocks.
All computers in the network have to allow the changes before they occur, therefore we can say it’s consensus-based permission.
So, the new block in the link is stamped in order to establish a chronological order, and the hashing process proves that the block is qualified to be added to the chain. Each new block is identified and validated by its hash which was established taking into account data from previous blocks. It’s an unbroken chain - a blockchain - which leads all the way back to its very first block.
OK, things start to make sense, but what exactly does a blockchain do?
Well, the answer is complex, but not hard to understand.
Blockchain is a distributed ledger that’s open to everyone and that can record transactions between two parties in an efficient, verifiable, and permanent way, without a third-party intermediary.
At its most basic technological level, a blockchain is a recording of the facts and is time-stamping things so that it would be impossible to backdate or to temper with them. Therefore, blockchain is a ledger that confirms a few things:
What about trust?
Blockchain is a new kind of database, which is shared across a number of participants. Updates are added to this database. Always at the end of it and not through the old data. This means that once the data is there, it cannot be erased or modified anyhow. All changes are simply captured as new blocks. This characteristic is called immutability.
Thus, it’s impossible for someone to erase an earlier block without attempting to destroy all the following blocks. But as all of the following blocks were already validated by everyone, the attempt is impossible. So this is important because blockchain is time-stamping things in a way that cannot be manipulated or tampered with.
Another paramount thing is that blockchain technology is bulletproof when it comes to manipulation in transactions. With its attribute of distributing the records to all the members of the network to be verified, it's impossible to tamper with the data because too many people have a copy of the original.
This is what we call decentralization. This means that no one can be evil and mess with everyone’s money. It’s a database with no central authority governance.
Each participant on this network holds, at the same time, an identical copy of the blockchain database on their computer. Therefore, the digital record and signature of the transactions are identified, validated, stored, and then shared with everyone. So blockchain keeps track of all changes, like an accounting ledger, but a superior one: a distributed ledger.
Blockchains use a decentralized network to facilitate the transaction between parties. This means that, unlike the banks which take custody conducting payments, the blockchain transfers money without a third party as a middleman. This is also called The Trust Protocol. Because the platform itself is based on the trust concept.
So if Anna wants to send 100 dollars to Alex, there is no financial institution through which the money will be transferred. There is no need for an intermediary, or a third party such as lawyers, banks, brokers, and so on. This is the huge potential that blockchain has.
What’s the catch with Bitcoin?
To understand Bitcoin as it is today, we need to talk a bit about the history of the internet and computers.
Back in the ‘80s, there were many problems with privacy, security, and inclusion on the Internet. It was that period in time when the algorithms that support modern cryptocurrency appeared for the first time.
Almost 2 decades later, the computer scientist and blockchain pioneer Nick Szabo developed Bit Gold, the predecessor of Bitcoin, a proto-cryptocurrency that was never implemented but had a lot in common with Bitcoin’s features regarding transactions and decentralized networks. It also operated on a proof of work algorithm which involves computer power in solving cryptographic puzzles.
And then the world was disrupted with the 9-page white paper sent by the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto in October 2008, describing the disruptive technology - Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System.
He outlined a new peer-to-peer electronic cash system using a cryptocurrency called Bitcoin - which gained tremendous fame and widespread traction. We can undoubtedly say that Bitcoin defined and highlighted the importance of blockchain.
But...there is more than one "but". Bitcoin is scarce and has limitations. One of the most important problems is scalability. And more than this, the competition for “mining” the few millions of Bitcoin left to be claimed is harder and harder. Because it requires knowledge, expensive equipment, and electricity. All in all inaccessible or unaffordable for most of the world.
Thus, from a sustainability perspective, Bitcoin is not a winner. The massive energy consumption for mining Bitcoin cannot be fixed with renewable energy. This is the reason why alternative cryptocurrencies - like Elrond - were needed.
Elrond uses a more evolved mechanism, the proof of stake. This doesn’t require the enormous computing power and energy required by Bitcoin. We truly believe in this sustainable ecosystem and highly scalable public blockchain. It's the future!
The Elrond ecosystem brings a great improvement in the blockchain speed, scale, and user experience. The Elrond blockchain can sustain up to 15000 transactions per second, which is like the speed of light compared to Bitcoin’s capacity of 7 transactions per second.
Moreover, Elrond is highly scalable, enabling many parallel transactions processing, and also operates on a secure and efficient proof of stake.
We’ll talk more about it in a future article.
One thing is for sure: blockchain will disrupt the financial system and the economy greatly. The blockchain revolution is centered on individual autonomy and human capitalism. We will be able to re-engineer deep structures of innovation and it will be a major paradigm shift. When and how? We will dig deeper into this in our next articles.
Our mission and responsibility is to work on sharing our knowledge and to create together a clear understanding of what this digital disruption means.