Proof of Stake: The pros and cons of the consensus process

Proof of Work or Proof of Stake: The different consensus procedures divide minds. A dispute.

The article first appeared in the November issue of BTC-ECHO’s crypto compass . More information on the monthly magazine with the main topics digital assets and blockchain technology can be found in the Kryptokompass Shop .

To the crypto compass magazine

No decentralized network without consensus. This is the price that decentralized protocols pay and the only prevailing consensus in the blockchain universe. The decisive arguments lie in the religious war between Proof of Work (PoW) and Proof of Stake (PoS) but on the part of the PoS followers.

Proof-of-stake networks are secured by reliable validators that are selected at random to sign new blocks. Depending on the deposited capital (stake), the chances of drawing the lucky lot increase. Carrot and stick ensure the conscientious work: If validators work properly, they not only receive the transaction fees, but also increase their reputation and thus the probability of signing additional blocks. In the case of practical jokes, however, they are punished by the algorithm and excluded from the network.

Validators are putting their stake at risk. The incentive not to cheat is correspondingly great. The focus on validators may seem to contradict the ideal of decentralization, but it is a necessary and comparatively minor evil when it comes to the security of networks. This centering also takes place in PoW networks by miners.

In contrast to energy-wasting PoW processes, miners or validators are not dependent on the purchase of expensive mining hardware. Even the bitterest PoW supporters cannot deny that PoS processes solve the blockchain trilemma of security, scalability and decentralization.

Contra Proof of Stake

Of course you can digitally recreate a plutocracy. You just mustn’t give yourself the illusion that you’re still dealing with a cryptocurrency. The mantra “dont trust, verify” is taken to absurdity by a network in which a few handfuls of nodes decide which transactions are going through and whether all account balances are correct.

The claims made by the PoS parliamentary group that they have solved the blockchain trilemma are therefore virtually false. The greater the crypto assets that you can do without for staking, the greater the chance of producing a block and getting the staking reward. This applies equally to all staking platforms.

The same applies to decisions about the further development of the underlying protocol: if you have a lot, you have a lot to say. What kind of style blooms this can be seen in the case of Steem, for example. The vote on a soft fork turned into a drama because a „hostile takeover“ of the Steemit blockchain by Tron was feared.

Tron CEO Justin Sun, with the support of the Bitcoin exchanges Binance, Huobi and Poloniex, voted against the proposal from the community that would have devalued their voting rights. It came to the hard fork. If you look at how diligently Binance, Bitfinex and Co. are already involved in staking, you don’t want to imagine the impact they will only have when a proof-of-stake network reaches mainstream adaptation.