The world is witnessing a massive shift towards digitalization, and the same is true for money. Cryptocurrencies have become one of the most favorite choices for a new-age transaction. Blockchain is the underlying technology supporting these cryptocurrencies, and it validates each transaction based on its agreed-upon proof mechanism.
So far, the blockchain technology has been using a proof mechanism called proof of work (PoW) consensus for validating transactions. However, experts have begun to predict a shift from proof of work to proof of stake (PoS) consensus.
This article discusses why some experts predict a shift from proof of work to proof of stake and the reasons behind it.
Understanding Proof of Work
Before understanding the shift, let’s first dive deep into the concept of proof of work.
In simple terms, proof of work involves miners who validate transactions by solving complex computational problems using their computational power. The miner who solves the problem gets rewards in the form of cryptocurrencies for their efforts.
Another important point to note is that solving these computational puzzles also consumes a large amount of energy, and the energy consumption increases proportionally with miner activity. In fact, it is estimated that the energy consumption related to Bitcoin mining alone equates to the annual consumption of a country like Argentina.
Moreover, as the count of miners continued to increase, the computational problems got more complex, requiring more energy to solve. This resulted in an ever-increasing requirement of computational power to validate transactions.
This brings us to the question of scalability. Unfortunately, the PoW consensus mechanism does not scale well as an increased number of miners results in more energy consumption and slower transactions.
What is Proof of Stake?
Proof of stake is another consensus mechanism that aims to solve the scalability issue of PoW. This mechanism is based on the idea that anyone can validate transactions, but the validators should have a certain amount of cryptocurrency at stake to participate in validating the transactions.
In simpler terms, the currency that the validators hold acts as a stake that they lose if they validate fraudulent or malicious transactions. Validators earn rewards by offering valid transactions, but they are penalized for any incorrect or malicious activities.
Unlike PoW, PoS does not depend on tremendous computational power, and hence energy consumption is significantly low. Additionally, PoS enables faster transactions and focuses on fair distribution and decentralization of wealth.
The shift from PoW to PoS
Although PoS is a relatively new idea, some experts predict that this consensus mechanism could replace PoW in the foreseeable future.
Here are some reasons why:
1. Energy Consumption
As mentioned earlier, the PoW consensus mechanism consumes a massive amount of energy, making it extremely unsustainable. According to a research paper, the energy consumption associated with PoW blockchains is 59.32 TWh per year.
On the other hand, PoS requires significantly lesser energy as it does not involve complex computational puzzles to validate transactions. Such reduced energy consumption will eventually lead to a more sustainable blockchain.
Scalability is one of the major drawbacks of the PoW consensus mechanism. With an ever-increasing number of miners joining the blockchain, the computational puzzles are getting more complicated, leading to slower transactions and higher energy consumption.
On the other hand, PoS scales well, allowing for faster transactions, and it does not consume as much computational power, leading to a more efficient and quicker validation process.
PoW consensus mechanisms have a centralization problem. The energy consumption and complexity of the computational problems lead to a centralized group of miners who are financially capable of buying the necessary computational power.
Since PoS requires significantly lesser energy and computational power, it invites a more diverse group of validators with a fair distribution of cryptocurrency. This fair distribution results in better decentralization of wealth and power in the blockchain system.
PoS consensus mechanisms offer better security than the PoW mechanism. Since validators at stake have their money invested, they are less likely to engage in fraudulent or malicious activities. Additionally, validators are incentivized to participate in the validation process, and they receive a reward for doing so.
PoS does not have an incentive to attack the blockchain as it would require them to spend more money to attack the system than they would get in return.
Q. Is proof of stake more complicated than proof of work?
A. Proof of stake is relatively less complicated than proof of work. PoS validators do not have to perform complex computations, and they only need to hold the necessary amount of cryptocurrency as a stake to validate transactions.
Q. What is the difference between PoW and PoS?
A. PoW and PoS have different mechanisms for validating transactions. PoW requires miners to solve complex computational problems, while PoS requires validators to hold a certain amount of cryptocurrency as a stake to validate transactions.
Q. Does proof of stake require less energy than proof of work?
A. Yes, PoS requires significantly less energy than PoW as it does not involve solving complex computational puzzles.
Q. Is proof of stake better for decentralization?
A. Yes, proof of stake mechanisms is better for decentralization as it invites a more diverse group of validators with a fair distribution of cryptocurrency, resulting in better decentralization of wealth and power in the blockchain system.
The shift from PoW to PoS is not an overnight transition, and it will take time for the entire blockchain community to adapt to the PoS mechanism. However, PoS offers several advantages over the PoW consensus mechanism, such as scalability, energy efficiency, decentralization, and better security.
As the blockchain technology continues to evolve, it is essential to explore these newer concepts and mechanisms that provide sustainability, security, and scalability to the blockchain systems.