Staking in Ethereum 2.0: when will it appear and how much can you earn on it?

On May 7-8, the Ethereum-based Ethereal Virtual Summit online summit was held.  The closest attention was paid to the upcoming update of the second cryptocurrency capitalization network - Ethereum 2.0.  Among other innovations, the new version of the network will have the possibility of staking - earning passive income for delegation of coins.  At the summit, the latest news about the team’s plans for launching the update was announced.  When the possibility of coin staking becomes available in Ethereum 2.0, how much you can earn from it and what other opportunities will open up for Ethereum users after upgrading to version 2.0, we figured out.  Spoiler: getting rich won't work.

Why coin staking will be added in Ethereum 2.0 

A brief educational program for those who do not follow the update of the project of Vitalik Buterin. Ethereum has long been in need of updating, and the main problem of the network is scalability: the blockchain is overloaded, transactions are slowing down, and the cost of “gas” (transaction fees) is growing. If you do not update the consensus algorithm, then the network will someday cease to be operational. To avoid this, developers have been working for several years on moving the network from the PoW algorithm to state 2.0, running on PoS. This should make the network more scalable, faster and cheaper.

In December last year, the first upgrade phase, Istanbul, was implemented in the network, and in April of this year, the Topaz test network with the possibility of staking was launched - the first users already earned 1%.

In the PoS algorithm that Ethereum switches to, there is no mining, and validation occurs due to the delegation of user network coins to the masternodes.  For the duration of the delegation, these coins are frozen, and for providing their funds for block validation, users receive a portion of the reward. This is staking - such a crypto-analogue of a bank deposit. There are several types of staking: with income from dividends or masternodes, but not the device’s power, as in PoW algorithms, but the number of miner coins is important in all of them. The more coins, the higher the income. For crypto investors, staking is an opportunity to receive passive income from blocked coins.

It is assumed that the launch of staking:

  • Will make ETH mining more affordable, but less resource intensive;
  • Will make the network more secure and secure - attacks will become too expensive;
  • Will create an entirely new sector of steak infrastructure around the platform;
  • Provides increased scalability, which will create the opportunity for wider implementation of DeFi protocols;
  • And, most importantly, it will show that Ethereum is a developing project.

The first payments to stakeholders will be one to two years after the launch of the update

The minimum validator steak will be 32 ETN (≈$6092 for today). This is the minimum number of coins that an ETH holder must freeze in order to qualify for payments. Another prerequisite is not to disconnect your wallet from the network. If the user disconnects and goes into automatic mode, he loses his daily income. If at some point the steak drops below 16 ETH, the user will be deprived of the right to be a validator.

The Ethereum network has to go through many more important stages before coin holders can make money on its storage. Collin Myers, the leader of the product strategy at the startup of the Ethereum developer ConsenSys, said that the genesis block of the new network will not be mined until the total amount of frozen funds reaches 524,000 ETN ($99.76 million at the time of publication). So many coins should be kept by 16,375 validators with a minimum deposit of 32 ETN. Until this moment, none of them will receive a percentage profit.

Myers noted that this event is not tied to a clear time and depends on the activity of the community.

All validators will have to freeze a rather significant amount for an indefinite period in the new network without confidence in the growth of the coin rate. It’s hard to say how many people there are. The developers believe that it will take 12−18 or even 24 months. According to the latest ConsenSys Codefi report, more than 65% of the 300 ETH owners surveyed plan to use the staking opportunity. This sample, of course, is not representative, but it can be assumed that most major coin holders will still be willing to take a chance.

How much can you earn on Ethereum staking

Developers have been arguing for a long time about what profitability should be among the validators of the Ethereum 2.0 network. The economic model of the network maintains an inflation rate below 1% and dynamically adjusts the reward scale for validators. The difficulty is not to overpay, but not to pay too little. Profitability will be variable, as it depends on the number and size of steaks, as well as other parameters. The fewer frozen coins and validators, the higher the yield, and vice versa. This is an easy way to motivate users to freeze ETN.

According to the October calculations of Collin Myers, after the launch of Ethereum 2.0, validators will be able to receive from 4.6% to 10.3% per annum as a reward for their steak. At the summit, he clarified that the first time after the launch of the Genesis block, it can even reach 20.3%. But as the number of steaks grows, profitability will decline. So, with five million steaks, it drops to about 6.6%.

The above numbers are not net returns.  They do not include equipment and electricity costs. According to Myers, after the Genesis block, the costs of maintaining the validator node will be about 4.75% of the remuneration. They will continue to increase as the number of blocked coins increases, and with a five millionth steak, they will grow to about 14.7%.

Myers emphasized that profitability will be higher for those who will work on their own equipment, rather than relying on cloud services. The latter, according to his calculations, at current prices can bring a loss of up to minus 15% per year. This, he believes, promotes true decentralization.

At the end of April, Vitalik Buterin said that validators will be able to earn 5% per annum with a minimum stake of 32 ETH - 1.6 ETH per year, or $ 304 at the time of publication. However, given the cost of freezing funds, the real return will be at 0.8%.

How to calculate profitability from ETN staking

The easiest way to calculate the estimated return for Ethereum staking is to use a special calculator. For example, from the online services EthereumPrice or Stakingrewards. The service takes into account the latest indicators of network profitability, as well as additional characteristics: the time of operation of a node in the network, the price of a coin, the share of blocked ETNs and so on. Depending on these values, the profit of the validator can vary greatly.

For example, you block 32 ETNs at today's coin price - $190, 1% of the coins are blocked, and the node works 99% of the time.  According to the EthereumPrice calculator, in this case your yield will be 14.25% per annum, or 4.56 ETH.

Validator earnings from the example above for 10 years according to EthereumPrice. Source

If to change the data, you have the same steak, but the proportion of blocked coins is 10%. Now your annual yield is only 4.51%, or 1.44 ETH.

Validator earnings from the second example over 10 years according to EthereumPrice. Source
It is important that this is profitability excluding expenses. Real returns will be significantly lower and in the second case may be negative. In addition, you must consider the fluctuation of the course. Even with a yield of 14% per annum in ETN, dollar-denominated returns may be negative in a bear market.

When will the transition to Ethereum 2.0 start

Ben Edgington from Teku, the operator of Ethereum 2.0, at the last summit said that the transition to PoS could be launched in July this year.

These deadlines, if there are no new delays, were also mentioned by experts of the BitMEX crypto exchange in their recent report on the transition of the Ethereum ecosystem to stage 2.0. However, on May 12, Vitalik Buterin denied the possibility of launching Ethereum 2.0 in July. The network is not yet ready and is unlikely to be launched before the end of the year. July 30 marks the 5th anniversary of the launch of Ethereum. Unfortunately, it seems that it will not be possible to start the update for the anniversary again.

Full deployment of updates will consist of several stages.

Phase 0. Beacon chain. The "zero" phase, which can be launched in July this year. In fact, it will only be a network test and PoS testing without economic activity, but it will use new ETN coins and the possibility of staking will appear. The "zero" phase will test the first layer of Ethereum 2.0 architecture - Lighthouse. This is the Ethereum 2.0 client in Rust, developed back in 2018.

Phase 1. Sharding - rejection of full nodes in favor of load balancing between all network nodes (shards). This should increase network bandwidth and solve the scalability problem. This is the first full phase of Ethereum 2.0. It will initially be deployed with 64 shards. It is because of sharding that the transition of a network to a new state is so complicated - existing smart contracts cannot be transferred to a new network. Therefore, at first, perhaps several years, both networks will exist simultaneously.

Phase 2. State execution. In this phase, various applications will work, and it will be possible to conclude smart contracts. This is a full-fledged working Ethereum 2.0 network.

After the second phase, two networks will work in parallel - Ethereum and Ethereum 2.0. Coin holders will be able to transfer ETN from the first to the second without the ability to transfer them back. To stimulate network support, coin emissions in both networks will increase until they merge. Read more about the phases of transition to state 2.0 in the aforementioned BitMEX report.

How the upgrade to Ethereum 2.0 will affect the staking market and coin price

The transition of the second largest coin to PoS will dramatically increase the stake in the market. The deposit in 32 ETH is too large for most users. Therefore, we should expect an increase in offers for staking from the exchanges.

So, the launch of such a service in November was announced by the largest Swiss crypto exchange Bitcoin Suisse.  She will not have a minimum deposit, and the commission will be 15%. According to October estimates by Binance Research analysts, the transition of Ethereum to stage 2.0 can double the price of a coin and the stake of staking in the market, and it will also make ETH the most popular currency on the PoS algorithm.

Adam Cochran, partner at MetaCartel Ventures DAO and developer of DuckDuckGo, argued in his blog that Ethereum's transition to state 2.0 would be the “biggest event” of the cryptocurrency market. He believes that a 3–5% return will attract the capital of large investors, and fear of lost profit (FOMO) among retail investors will push them to actively buy coins. The planned coin burning mechanism for each transaction will reduce the potential oversupply.

However, BitMEX experts in the report mentioned above believe that updating the network will not be as important an event as it seems to many, and will not have a significant impact on the coin rate and the staking market. Initially, this will be more likely to test the PoS system, rather than a full-fledged network. There will be no economic activity and smart contracts, and interest for a steak will not be paid immediately.

Therefore, most of the economic activity will continue to be concluded in the original Ethereum network, which will work in parallel with the new one.

Analysts of the exchange emphasized that due to the addition of staking, the first time (short, in their opinion) a large number of ETNs will be blocked on the network. Most likely, this will limit the supply of coins and lead to higher prices. However, this can also release some of the ETNs blocked in smart contracts, and then the price will not rise. Moreover, the authors of the document are not sure that the demand for coins will be long-term and stable. For this to happen, PoS and sharding must prove that they work stably and provide the benefits for which the update was started. But, if this happens, the network is waiting for a wave of coins from the developers of smart contracts and DeFi protocols. In any case, quick changes should not be expected. A full transition to Ethereum 2.0 will take years and won’t be smooth - network failures are inevitable.

We also believe that we should not rely on Ethereum staking as another panacea for all the problems of the coin and the market. Most likely, the transition of the network to PoS will not have a significant impact on the staking market, but may positively affect the price of the coin. However, relying on the ETN rally in anticipation of this is too optimistic.

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