Chainlink Staking is a key cryptoeconomic security mechanism in which stakers commit LINK tokens in smart contracts to back certain performance guarantees around oracle services. The addition of staking enables Chainlink decentralized oracle networks (DONs) to scale to service a broader range of applications and higher value use cases across Web3 and traditional Web2 industries.
Staking is one mechanism in a broader initiative around Chainlink Economics 2.0—an array of programs that focus on improving data security and utility while also reducing the operating costs of oracle services, increasing user fees that are paid to Chainlink service providers, and enabling a broader scope of service providers such as stakers to participate in the Chainlink ecosystem. To learn more about Chainlink Economics 2.0 and the evolution of LINK as a productive asset, visit chain.link/economics.
As a key step toward realizing Chainlink Economics 2.0, we’re excited to announce that the initial beta version of Chainlink Staking (v0.1) is planned to launch on Ethereum mainnet in December 2022.
The Early Access Eligibility App walks community members and ecosystem participants through a step-by-step process that informs them if they qualify for early access into the v0.1 staking pool. Community members can check their eligibility by connecting their address via a Web3 wallet, which will be cross-referenced against a series of allowlist criteria (listed below). Meeting any of the criteria earns the address owner a chance to participate in the v0.1 staking pool.
Note that checking your eligibility does not require an on-chain transaction. It only requires signing an off-chain message via your Web3 wallet as a means of verifying ownership of the address.
Those eligible for early access will get priority entrance into the v0.1 staking pool—granting them the opportunity to directly stake up to 7,000 LINK in a first-come, first-serve manner until the pool cap is reached. For community members who are not eligible for early access, the v0.1 staking pool will open up to the general public shortly after the Early Access phase ends, with a similar 7,000 LINK limit per address set for at least the start. By helping secure the network via alerting and other features, stakers are able to earn rewards for their contribution.
In addition to the community member allotment, each Chainlink node operator currently servicing Chainlink Data Feeds will have the opportunity to individually stake up to 50,000 LINK, with a 1,000 LINK minimum if choosing to stake during v0.1. Initially, 3M LINK of pool space is planned to be reserved for NOPs, meaning 22M LINK will initially be available for community members to stake at the v0.1 launch. Due to the security parameters of the staking system, all stakers in v0.1 will have their staked LINK locked until the subsequent release of Staking v0.2.
Chainlink Staking v0.1 will initially be capped at 25M LINK, with plans to scale up to 75M LINK over time. Given that Chainlink’s Transaction Value Enabled (TVE) was $6.18 trillion so far in 2022—a metric that measures the aggregate monetary value of transactions facilitated within a given time period—a security-conscious approach to the rollout of staking is necessary. Chainlink Staking will ultimately scale up over time to bolster the security guarantees that Chainlink provides to Web3, particularly as Chainlink grows to secure more value across more services.
Criteria for the Early Access Eligibility List
The table below summarizes the three criteria that qualify a community member for early access eligibility when Chainlink Staking v0.1 is launched on mainnet in December. Community members only need to meet one criterion to qualify for early access.
|Hodler||Token holders who fall into either category:
|Builder||Participating teams in any Chainlink-hosted hackathon from Fall 2020 to Spring 2022.|
|Educator||Chainlink Advocates, Developer Experts, and others who have demonstrably hosted or spoken at Chainlink meetups about the Chainlink Network or Chainlink Ecosystem.|
Note that being on the eligibility list provides an opportunity to stake in the v0.1 pool, but does not serve as a guarantee of entry given the initially capped pool size. With this in mind, the Early Access Eligibility List is optimized to target active and long-term ecosystem participants with a deep understanding of Chainlink and thus a higher likelihood of raising alerts if they believe an oracle service has not met the predefined performance standards.
Once the early access period ends, any LINK token holder will have the chance to stake in v0.1, with 7,000 LINK per-address cap for at least the start of the general access phase, if the pool cap is not reached.
The Rationale and Methodology Behind the Early Access Criteria
Staking v0.1 serves as the first in-production release of an explicit cryptoeconomic security system where Chainlink DONs are backed by staked LINK. The initial v0.1 release sets the foundation for future staking implementations by introducing a decentralized alerting system, which is planned to be supplemented in the future with additional functionalities such as user fee rewards, a more advanced reputation system, comprehensive stake slashing mechanics, and other mechanisms for increased security assurances.
In order to build a secure foundation, a safe and pragmatic approach is taken in the initial Staking v0.1 implementation. This provides time and lends a more robust set of eyes for identifying any unforeseen risks and opportunities before the staking system scales in functionality and begins to secure more feeds and services. In line with this approach, the initial pool size was capped at 25M LINK tokens as a security-conscious measure for participants.
Because the pool is capped, a fair-entry mechanism (i.e. the Early Access Eligibility List) has been created to identify who gets a prioritized opportunity to fill the pool’s limited space. Extra care has been taken to help ensure that the allowlist includes a wide variety of participants from the Chainlink community. This increases the likelihood that space in the staking pool is distributed across a large number of entities, including smaller participants, which in turn will strengthen the security assurance provided by the decentralized alerting system and future functionalities introduced to Chainlink Staking over time.
An equally important goal was ensuring that data was gathered in a credibly neutral, objective manner. In defining the criteria, it was critical that active ecosystem participants, who are knowledgeable about the protocol and contribute to Chainlink’s success, were included, as they are most likely to raise alerts.
With these goals set forth, a team of data scientists and subject matter experts spent a significant amount of time studying allowlist structures used in other projects in order to learn from historical successes, including other staking systems and entry mechanisms. Some highlights in the rationale and methodology behind the early access allowlist for Chainlink Staking v0.1 include:
- Early Access Eligibility List Size: In order to include a wide range of community members and ecosystem participants and to help ensure a high level of participation during the early access phase of v0.1, an allowlist structure was created that encompasses a large array of addresses. In total there are approximately 250,000 addresses on the Early Access Eligibility List. Since not every eligible address will participate, and participants may not stake the full 7,000 LINK amount, the allowlist was optimized to balance accessibility with engagement.
- Per-Staker Limit: A 7,000 LINK per-participant staking cap, with a 1 LINK minimum, was set to promote greater inclusion and reduce the risk of a few participants dominating the pool in the early stages. At the same time, the staking cap was set high enough to help ensure a sufficient amount of engagement is generated. Limits exist for the early access phase and at least the start of the general access phase in v0.1.
- On-Chain Considerations: A robust set of on-chain analyses were performed to scope out a Hodler criterion that includes token holders who have shown their commitment over extended periods of time. To capture both long-term and near-term token holders, two sub-criterion were created. The first sub-criterion captures holders who have held LINK from the day of the Chainlink Mainnet (May 30, 2019) to the release of the Chainlink Staking roadmap (June 7, 2022). The second sub-criterion captures token holders who held from SmartCon #1 (August 5, 2021) to the Chainlink Staking roadmap (June 7, 2022). Both sub-criterion support the use of LINK within top Ethereum-based dApp protocols during the time periods.
- Cross-Chain Consideration: In order to account for cross-chain activity in the Hodler criterion—e.g. bridging LINK tokens to non-Ethereum networks—a lower holding time percentage was applied to support greater inclusivity. Specifically, a holding time percentage of 50% was set for the long-term criterion period from 2019-2022, where its midpoint (December 2, 2020) is right around when strong momentum for cross-chain activity started up. For the shorter-term criterion period from 2021-2022, a percentage of 90% was selected to include more recently active community members but still leave room for potential edge cases.
- Off-Chain Activity Considerations: To supplement the on-chain criteria, an array of off-chain criteria were created for Builders and Educators. This includes capturing active contributors such as Chainlink Advocates, Developer Experts, and hackathon participants who helped foster growth in the Chainlink ecosystem.
- Centralized Exchanges: The largest edge cases exist around support for centralized exchanges. Ultimately, eligibility from CEX usage was not directly included due to the opacity and trust involved with capturing CEX users—opening up complications given that activity on such platforms cannot be objectively identified in a trust-minimized manner. General access after the early access period ends can potentially give CEX users additional opportunity to participate in Chainlink Staking v0.1, alongside future pool size increases.
While the Early Access Eligibility List utilizes objective criteria to capture a wide range of different Chainlink ecosystem participants, the creation of an allowlist is a nuanced and complex endeavor—one that cannot perfectly capture everyone’s notion of fairness and equity. Ultimately, it represents only the beginning of Chainlink Staking access, with v0.1 being the initial release.
Transitioning Into Chainlink Economics 2.0
The initial staking v0.1 implementation marks an inflection point in both the Chainlink Network’s security and economic design. By providing an additional layer of cryptoeconomic security to oracle services, Staking v0.1 marks the start of staking as a key economic mechanism for enabling LINK to be used to help secure the network. Chainlink Staking is planned to evolve over time as future versions are released.
Staking plays a key role in the broader shift toward Chainlink Economics 2.0. Alongside staking, Chainlink Economics 2.0 includes, but is not limited to, a number of initiatives:
- Chainlink BUILD: The Chainlink BUILD Program is a Chainlink Labs initiative that aims to accelerate the growth of early-stage and established projects within the Chainlink ecosystem by providing enhanced access to Chainlink services and technical support in exchange for commitments of fees and other incentives to Chainlink service providers such as stakers.
- Chainlink SCALE: Sustainable Chainlink Access for Layer 1 and 2 Enablement is a Chainlink Labs initiative where blockchain projects commit to offsetting operating costs of oracle networks to accelerate their ecosystem’s growth and support the long-term sustainability of Chainlink oracle services.
- Technical Innovations: A series of initiatives around enhancing the functionality and economic viability of oracle services, such as Off-Chain Reporting (OCR) 2.0, blockchain fast lanes, and data feed optimizations that balance the need to meet user demand with stronger incentives to adopt cost-efficient blockchains and layer-2 networks.
All of these efforts are aimed at helping ensure the long-term sustainability of the Chainlink Network and successfully ushering in a Web3 paradigm powered by cryptographic guarantees. More information about the initial beta version of Chainlink Staking (v0.1) is planned to be provided in the future.
To learn more about Chainlink Staking and Economics 2.0, check out the following resources:
- Chainlink Economics 2.0 Hub
- Chainlink Staking Web Page
- Sergey Nazarov SmartCon 2022 Keynote
- Chainlink Staking Roadmap
To learn more about Chainlink, visit the Chainlink website, subscribe to the Chainlink newsletter, and follow the official Chainlink Twitter to keep up with the latest Chainlink news and announcements.
Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only and contains statements about the future, including anticipated programs, products and features, developments, and timelines for the rollout of these new products and features. These statements are only predictions and reflect current beliefs and expectations with respect to future events; they are based on assumptions and are subject to risk, uncertainties, and change at any time. The Chainlink Eligibility App is provided “as is” without warranty of any kind. Eligibility does not guarantee your participation in the Chainlink staking program. Staking eligibility and participation requirements are subject to modification at any time without notice. There can be no guarantee that any of the contemplated programs, products or features will be implemented as specified or at all nor any assurance that actual results will not differ materially from those expressed in these statements, although we believe them to be based on reasonable assumptions. All statements are valid only as of the date first posted and we may not update this post in response.