Proof of Work and Proof of Stake: How do they differ?
When investing in crypto, one of the factors you will notice is how there are several terms you have to understand so you will know which one is worth your time. Aside from understanding each one’s potential and special features, you’ll encounter consensus algorithms that each of them uses.
Now that digital assets are widely accepted in online casinos, you will find it easy to make crypto transactions to play your favourite Bitcasino slots and games. This is why you should also know how these assets are obtained aside from how they are used.
Among the several technical aspects of crypto are its consensus mechanisms. There are several types of these but the most common ones you’ll encounter are Proof of Work and Proof of Stake which are being used for Bitcoin and Ethereum respectively.
If you’re not yet familiar with these, here are some of the basic facts you have to learn about them:
What are consensus mechanisms for?
Before diving deeper into consensus mechanisms of coins like Bitcoin and Ethereum which can be used to play your favourite Bitcasino live casino games, it’s important to define what consensus mechanisms are. Technically speaking, consensus mechanisms are the systems that define how coins validate their transactions and maintain the security of their entire blockchain.
These protocols also determine transaction speed and fees, how much energy is used, and other specific details that will impact the blockchain and its entirety. More importantly, these protocols are also the determining factor of how assets are to be mined or acquired.
What is Proof of Work?
Proof of Work (PoW) is the oldest consensus algorithm. It is also the system used by Bitcoin. Tracing back its history, it can be said that PoW was first proposed in 1993 as protection against spam emails. However, it was only in 2009 that it was popularised by the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto who used it to validate the blocks in the Bitcoin network.
PoW is based on the ability of network users to prove that a computing task has been completed. A node, or piece of computing power, is used to solve a mathematical equation. Once the equation is resolved, a new block on the chain will be validated. This can only be done with specially designed computers that have the ability to receive, send, or forward data within a network of other tools.
The fastest solver will automatically get a new coin as a reward. This coin is linked to the current and previous blocks. The solvers of the mathematical problems are known as miners, and the process is referred to as mining.
The algorithm of this consensus algorithm allows it to choose who can amend the blockchain and make new entries. Since the blockchain works as a ledger, it keeps track of all the transactions and organises them into various blocks where they’re kept safe from being spent twice. It also makes it safer.
There are several advantages that come with using a crypto that uses PoW consensus algorithm. Here are some of them:
- It keeps an accurate track of transactions
- Coins that are made with this protocol are heavily secure as it will take a lot of effort for hackers to interfere with it
- Its network is known for being more open and decentralised
Aside from the advantages it brings, there are also some disadvantages investors should learn more about. Some of them are:
- The mathematical problems can get too complicated
- Can be considered less environmentally friendly since the mining process consumes a lot of energy
- The devices used to mine can be expensive
What is Proof of Stake?
Since people have noticed that there are some lapses in the PoW consensus algorithm, a new approach was introduced in 2011 to address certain problems. This is now known as Proof of Stake (PoS) and it’s mostly known as the protocol used by Ethereum.
This approach was made with the main objective of lowering costs and lessening the need for expensive equipment that will run the network. Instead of extensive work, the protocol is more focused on how to make a verifiable stake in the ecosystem exist.
In other words, a user just needs to prove that they have a certain number of crypto tokens that are native to the blockchain to have their transactions approved on the network. This consensus mechanism uses blockchain networks that will help it function smoothly.
In the PoS network, the power to add blocks is not fought upon by miners. Unlike in PoW where the coins are said to be mined, the coins in a PoS network are minted. This means that coins are created through the verification of data and creation of new blocks on the blockchain. Aside from that, PoS blockchains do not place restrictions on who can propose blocks based on energy use.
There are several advantages when using a coin that works with a PoS system. Here are some of them:
- Is considered to be more environmentally friendly as it doesn’t consume a lot of energy
- They are more scalable which means that its system can cover more transactions per second (TPS) than other systems
- Transactions are faster and are cheaper
There are also some issues that come with using PoS-based assets. Here are some of them:
- It often requires a large initial investment to qualify as a validator
- Misses out on giving special benefits such as mining rewards
- Security is not as tough as that of PoW’s blockchain system
How they differ
PoW and PoS may share several similarities but there are also several notable differences that set these two consensus algorithms apart. With that, here are some of the factors that make them unique:
- PoW uses more energy than PoS. For example, the energy used by the Bitcoin network alone is already enough to power an entire nation. PoW requires sophisticated hardware for BTC miners to carry out their work. Proof of Stake, on the other hand, needs less effort and no specific tools. As a result, it is viewed as a more sustainable choice than PoW.
- PoW involves miners who would compete to validate transactions and solve cryptographic puzzles so they can get block rewards. Meanwhile, PoS uses randomly selected validators to ensure that transactions are trustworthy. They get paid in crypto in exchange for their services.
- PoW undergoes a process called mining where expensive computers are required. Meanwhile, PoS validators are determined by those who have massive shares in the network. The process is also referred to as staking.
- For PoW, an attacker would need to gather 51% of the network’s computing power to place a malicious block into the system. This would require a lot of specialised mining equipment and electricity. Meanwhile, a hacker would have to own at least 51% of all assets to be able to interfere with the network with PoS.
- PoW’s block time depends on its computing power and complicated adjustment algorithm which makes it less efficient. Meanwhile, such is not the case for PoS as its block time is consistent and predetermined.
Other consensus mechanisms you should know
Aside from PoW and PoS, other consensus algorithms have also emerged within the industry. In case you’re not that familiar with them, here are some examples you should learn more about:
- Proof of Authority → This is a protocol commonly used by private businesses or organisations. This relies on blocks made by verified sources and has special permissions that can access the network. The assurance in this protocol is also based on reputation and authority rather than public consensus.
- Proof of Capacity → A computer’s hard disc storage space is what proof-of-capacity currencies rely on for their decentralised block generation and verification system.
- Proof of Activity → A mix of proof-of-stake and proof-of-work, the proof-of-activity consensus mechanism aims to maximise the benefits of both designs.
- Proof of Burn → Here, miners burn tokens from time to time so that they can be deleted or removed from circulation. In a way, this lowers the risk for inflation.
- Proof of Elapsed Time → This protocol assigns the block verification to a miner at random using a random timer that runs separately at each node.
- Proof of History → This is a protocol that can be used by users to create historical records that show a record of transactions that happened at certain times.
These are just some of the basic facts you would have to know about Proof of Work, Proof of Stake, and how they differ. Given the fact that each of them has its fair share of pros and cons, it is important that you still understand them to know which one is better for your needs. By keeping these facts in mind, you will have a better idea of the technical aspects you would have to consider before investing in any coin you’re interested in.