What Is Proof Of Stake? The Benefits Explained

what is proof of stake

In blockchain technology, consensus mechanisms have a crucial role in sustaining the security and integrity of decentralized digital ledgers. These mechanisms ensure that all network participants agree on the blockchain's current state. Proof of Stake (PoS) is a popular alternative to the energy-intensive Proof of Work system. So, what is proof of stake? It is a consensus model where validators handle the creation of new blocks selected based on the number of coins they hold and are prepared to "stake" as collateral, promising a more energy-efficient and scalable approach to blockchain security.

Understanding Blockchain Consensus Mechanisms

Blockchain technology is underpinned by a critical process known as a consensus mechanism, which ensures all transactions are agreed upon without a central authority, maintaining the ledger's consistency and reliability. This mechanism allows for the secure updating of the blockchain, whereby multiple parties can reach a common agreement (consensus) on the validity of transactions. Without consensus mechanisms, digital trust—the cornerstone of blockchain utility—would be unattainable.

Proof of Work (PoW)

This mechanism is the original consensus algorithm in a blockchain network. The most well-known example is Bitcoin (BTC), which, for many people, is the most secure cryptocurrency because of it. In PoW, competition exists between miners to solve complex mathematical puzzles. The first to succeed earns the right to add a new block to the blockchain. This process assures network security and creates new coins as rewards for the miners. However, as it requires significant computational power, it is criticized for its environmental impact and the tendency to centralize mining power with those with more advanced hardware.

Proof of Stake (PoS)

Proof of Stake emerged as a more sustainable alternative to PoW. In PoS, the probability of validating a new block is proportional to one's holdings in the cryptocurrency (the stake). Instead of miners, PoS has validators who lock up some of their coins via staking. High stake amounts increase the chances of being chosen to validate new transactions and create new blocks. PoS drastically reduces the amount of computational work required, thereby saving energy.

Delegated Proof of Stake (DPoS)

In this variation of PoS, stakeholders vote for a small number of delegates responsible for transaction validation and maintaining the blockchain. PlasBit acknowledges that this system is designed to be more democratic and efficient as it relies on the reputation of the delegates and can achieve consensus more quickly than traditional PoW or PoS systems.

How Proof of Stake Works

Proof of Stake (PoS) represents a fundamental shift from the traditional Proof of Work (PoW) system. Instead of relying on energy-intensive mining, PoS leverages users' economic stake to ensure network security and create consensus. Here's a detailed explanation of how the Proof of Stake process unfolds:

The Proof of Stake Process

In a PoS blockchain, adding new blocks to the chain doesn't involve mining. Instead, it depends on validators, who create new blocks and validate transactions based on their economic stake in the network. When a node is selected to validate the next block, it checks the validity of transactions, provides the block signature, and adds it to the blockchain. Validators are chosen through various selection methods such as random selection, coin age-based selection, or other algorithms that consider the validator's wealth and the time for which it has been held (stake). The selected validator is rewarded with transaction fees or additional cryptocurrency, not new coins, as in PoW. This reward system serves not only as an incentive for validators but also as a means of circulating new coins into the system.

Validators vs. Miners

The critical difference between validators in a PoS system and miners in a PoW system is that validators are not required to solve complex mathematical problems. Instead, their ability to validate transactions and create new blocks is based on their stake in the network. This difference results in a more energy-efficient system, significantly reducing the need for computational power.

Staking and Its Significance

In PoS, the "stake" refers to the amount of cryptocurrency a validator holds and is willing to lock up or "freeze" as collateral to increase their chance of being chosen to validate blocks. The act of staking works as a security deposit; if a validator approves fraudulent transactions, they can lose a portion or all of their stake, depending on the network's rules.

How Stake is Determined

The method of determining stake can vary from one PoS blockchain to another. Generally, the stake is simply the number of coins a validator owns and is willing to lock up for a certain period. Some networks might use other factors, like the duration the coins have been staked (coin age) or additional resources like the validator's reputation within the network.

The Role of Staking in Network Security

Staking is central to the security of a PoS network. Validators have a financial stake in the health and integrity of the network. By putting their coins at risk, validators are incentivized to act in good faith and maintain the network's security. Dishonesty comes at a cost, as they stand to lose their staked coins if they approve fraudulent transactions. Furthermore, because the system requires validators to hold a significant amount of the cryptocurrency to participate in the validation process, it reduces the risk of a 51% attack. To compromise a PoS network, an attacker would need to acquire more than half of the staked coins, which is economically disincentivizing due to the substantial investment required and the potential loss of that investment if the network is harmed.

what is proof of stake?

Advantages of Proof of Stake

Proof of Stake (PoS) has gained popularity in the blockchain community for its numerous advantages over the traditional Proof of Work (PoW) system. These benefits span environmental sustainability, security enhancements, scalability, and economic incentives. Below, we examine these advantages in detail:

Energy Efficiency Compared to Proof of Work

One of the most significant advantages of PoS is its energy efficiency. PoW requires substantial computational power as cryptominers solve complex mathematical problems to validate transactions and form new blocks, which consumes much electricity. PoS, on the other hand, does not require such energy-intensive computations. Validators are selected to create new blocks based on their stake, which involves far less power, thereby drastically reducing the overall energy consumption of the blockchain network. This feature makes PoS a more sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative, which is increasingly important as society becomes more conscious of carbon footprints and energy usage.

Increased Security Aspects

PoS enhances network security in several ways. Firstly, the risk of a 51% attack is reduced because an attacker must acquire a majority of the staked coins, which is typically prohibitively expensive and economically irrational. Additionally, since validators have a substantial investment in the network through their stake, there is a solid financial disincentive against malicious behavior. Dishonest actions could result in losing their stake, so this economic penalty system promotes honest participation and helps maintain network integrity.

Scalability Benefits

Scalability is another area where PoS outshines PoW. The PoW mechanism can limit transaction processing capacity due to the time and energy required to mine blocks. PoS, with its less resource-intensive approach, has the potential to process transactions more quickly and efficiently, allowing for higher transaction throughput. This ability makes PoS systems better equipped to handle larger volumes of transactions, essential for the widespread adoption and use of blockchain technology in various sectors.

Economic Incentives for Stakeholders

The economic model of PoS aligns stakeholders' incentives with the network's long-term success. Validators earn transaction fees or additional cryptocurrency for maintaining the blockchain, encouraging coin holders to participate actively in the network's operations. Moreover, since the rewards are not based on mining power, smaller stakeholders have a more level playing field, leading to a more equitable distribution of rewards and greater decentralization.

Examples of Successful PoS Blockchains

Several blockchain projects have successfully implemented PoS, demonstrating its real-world viability.

Ethereum 2.0:

Ethereum, the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, commenced its transition to PoS with the Ethereum 2.0 upgrade, also known as Serenity. This ambitious upgrade addresses the network's scalability and energy consumption issues. PlasBit crypto wallet users may already have experienced the versatility of transacting with ETH since it is many users' first introduction to altcoins. With Ethereum 2.0, the network introduces shard chains, which are expected to increase Ethereum's capacity for transactions and smart contracts significantly. The upgrade also includes the introduction of the Beacon Chain, a PoS blockchain that runs in parallel with the existing network to coordinate the system, manage validators, and deploy shards. Ethereum 2.0's move to PoS represents one of the most significant shifts in blockchain technology and is expected to reduce Ethereum's energy consumption by up to 99%. By enhancing network efficiency and scalability, Ethereum 2.0 is poised to bolster the platform's position as a leader in supporting a vast ecosystem of decentralized applications, finance, and more.


Cardano stands out with its research-driven approach and the PoS algorithm Ouroboros, which has undergone rigorous academic scrutiny to ensure its security and viability. This blockchain platform was designed with a layered architecture, separating the settlement and computational layers, allowing greater flexibility and easier maintenance. Cardano's Ouroboros protocol powers its cryptocurrency (ADA) and underpins its ability to facilitate complex programmable transfers, enabling sophisticated smart contracts and dApps. The Cardano project has been methodically developed, focusing on peer-reviewed research and evidence-based methods, ensuring a high degree of academic rigor in its evolution. The network also features a decentralized governance model, allowing ADA holders to have a say in future developments, thus fostering a community-driven approach to innovation.


Polkadot operates on a multi-chain framework that aims to connect various blockchains into a single unified network, allowing unprecedented interoperability. The unique PoS variant, Nominated Proof of Stake (NPoS), enables users to contribute to network security by nominating validators, which not only decentralizes the process but also democratizes participation in the consensus mechanism. Polkadot's architecture consists of a central relay chain with permanent transactions and parachains that can be customized for various uses. This design allows for sharing security across the network and can accommodate many transactions through parallel processing. With the ability to connect and secure a vast network of specialized blockchains, Polkadot is paving the way for a new era of cross-chain cooperation, enabling a web where our data and transactions can be privately managed and freely exchanged across diverse services.


Tezos is recognized for its on-chain governance system, which allows the protocol to evolve by having stakeholders vote on upgrades, thus avoiding hard forks and ensuring a smooth network evolution. The platform's unique PoS variant, Liquid Proof of Stake (LPoS), is designed to make participation accessible to all token holders regardless of their stake size. In LPoS, stakeholders can delegate their validating rights to other users without relinquishing ownership of their tokens, facilitating a more secure and decentralized network. Moreover, Tezos has been designed to facilitate formal verification, which guarantees the correctness of the code governing transactions and enhances the security of the most sensitive or financially weighted smart contracts. Its modular architecture and formal upgrade mechanism have allowed Tezos to remain state-of-the-art through a series of upgrades that have improved its functionality and performance over time. With a strong focus on community governance and formal verification of smart contracts, Tezos represents a forward-thinking approach to blockchain technology with a built-in mechanism for evolution and improvement.


Solana is another blockchain platform that successfully employs PoS with a unique twist through its Proof of History (PoH) mechanism. This system allows it to process transactions at an impressive speed, handling up to 50,000 TPS and maintaining low transaction costs. Founded in 2017, Solana has shown strong performance in terms of scalability and speed due in part to its innovative combination of PoS and PoH. This blend allows for efficient and rapid transaction verification, which has been crucial for the platform's ability to host scalable, decentralized applications. Despite facing a significant dip in its market capitalization during the cryptocurrency downturn of 2022, Solana demonstrated resilience with a substantial recovery by the end of 2023. With its censorship-resistant nature and support for smart contracts and Non-Fungible Tokens, Solana has established itself as a formidable player in the blockchain space and a noteworthy example of the successful application of Proof of Stake.

The Evolution of Proof of Stake

Proof of Work, the consensus mechanism that underpins Bitcoin, has long been lauded for its ability to maintain a decentralized and secure network. However, as the network grew, the limitations of PoW became increasingly evident. The mechanism's intensive computational requirements led to excessive energy consumption, eliciting environmental concerns. Furthermore, the competitive nature of mining led to the concentration of power among those with the resources to invest in specialized hardware, raising questions about the centralization of mining power and network security.

The Origin of Proof of Stake

In response to the challenges posed by PoW, the Proof of Stake concept was proposed as an energy-efficient and resource-conserving alternative. The idea was to eliminate the need for resource-intensive computation by allowing cryptocurrency holders to validate transactions and create new blocks. This method aimed to reduce the environmental impact and democratize the validation process by making it more accessible to individuals without expensive mining equipment.

Key Milestones in the Development of PoS

The development of Proof of Stake has seen several significant milestones that have shaped its evolution:

Peercoin, the Pioneer:

Introduced in 2012, Peercoin was the first cryptocurrency to implement a hybrid PoW/PoS system, paving the way for staking.

Pure PoS Adoption:

Nxt, launched in 2013, became one of the first cryptocurrencies to use a pure PoS mechanism, entirely moving away from PoW and demonstrating the viability of PoS.

Ethereum 2.0 Announcement:

Ethereum, one of the largest blockchain platforms, announced its transition from PoW to PoS, marking a significant endorsement of the PoS mechanism.

Continuous Improvements:

Over the years, various iterations and improvements to PoS have been proposed to enhance security and efficiency, such as incorporating sharding with PoS in Ethereum 2.0. The Proof of Stake model continues to evolve, with ongoing research and practical implementations shaping its future. PlasBit believes it is a testament to the blockchain community's commitment to innovation and sustainability, seeking to balance the scales between energy efficiency, security, and decentralization.

Challenges and Criticisms of Proof of Stake

While Proof of Stake (PoS) has been heralded for its efficiency and sustainability, it also faces several challenges and criticisms that raise concerns about its practical application. These include potential security vulnerabilities, centralization risks, wealth concentration, and inequality issues.

Potential Security Vulnerabilities

A prominent security concern within PoS is the "Nothing at Stake" problem. In PoS, validators may have little to no disincentive to vote for multiple blockchain histories, potentially leading to double-spending attacks or blockchain forks. This benefit is because, unlike in PoW, supporting multiple chains does not require extra resources. PoS protocols often use slashing to counteract this, where a validator's stake can be partially or entirely destroyed if they are caught supporting conflicting transactions. Another concern is "Long-Range Attacks," where an attacker buys old private keys from validators who no longer have a stake in the network and uses them to create a fork of the blockchain from a point in the past. PoS systems are developing countermeasures to prevent such attacks, such as checkpointing and key evolving cryptography.

Centralization Concerns

Centralization is a significant concern when considering what is proof of stake? The reason is that the more stake a validator has, the more power they typically wield. This effect can lead to a situation where the wealthiest nodes have the most significant control over the blockchain, which contradicts the decentralized ethos of blockchain technology. Some PoS blockchains mitigate this by introducing mechanisms to ensure that smaller stakeholders have a chance of being chosen as validators. Some systems also use randomization to select validators, reducing the predictability of selection.

Wealth Concentration and Inequality

Wealth concentration is another critical issue in PoS systems. Since the probability of being chosen to validate transactions is often proportional to one's stake, those with more significant holdings can earn more from transaction fees and block rewards. This situation can create a feedback loop where wealth begets more wealth, leading to inequality within the network. Some PoS protocols address this by implementing measures such as capping rewards or introducing a progressive reward scale to level the playing field for smaller stakeholders.

How Criticisms Are Being Addressed

The blockchain community is actively devising solutions to these criticisms. For instance, in response to "Nothing at Stake," some PoS systems have begun employing multi-factor consensus mechanisms that consider the stake size and other factors, such as the time coins have been staked or the reputation of validators. Regarding centralization, innovations such as "Delegated Proof of Stake" (DPoS) enable smaller stakeholders to delegate their stakes to trusted validators, ensuring their participation in the consensus process without needing significant holdings. Additionally, governance models that allow community voting on critical decisions can help prevent power concentration by giving every stakeholder a voice. PoS blockchains introduce penalty mechanisms to combat wealth concentration, where validators can lose a portion of their stake for misconduct, thus discouraging any potential centralization of power. Others incentivize decentralization by rewarding a diverse set of validators.

Other Consensus Mechanism Variants

The mechanisms we have explored answer the question: what is proof of stake? Each offers different trade-offs in terms of speed, security, and decentralization, and the choice of which to use depends on the particular goals and circumstances of the blockchain network. Numerous other consensus mechanisms have also been proposed and implemented to address the specific requirements and shortcomings of the systems above. These include:

Proof of Authority (PoA):

In PoA, pre-approved validators are responsible for creating new blocks chosen for their proven integrity and commitment to the network. This mechanism suits permissioned blockchains where transparency and identity are paramount. The trust in validators' reputation ensures a swift and energy-efficient consensus process but may compromise some aspects of decentralization.

Proof of Burn (PoB):

PoB involves validators sending coins to an unspendable address to show their long-term commitment to the network. This "burning" of coins simulates mining by allocating block writing opportunities without the need for energy-intensive computations. However, it still presents a barrier to entry and the potential for wealth concentration similar to PoW.

Proof of Space (PoSpace) or Proof of Capacity (PoC):

Utilizing participants' unused hard drive space to mine cryptocurrencies, PoSpace is an eco-friendly alternative to PoW. It lowers the barrier to entry for miners and reduces electricity consumption, but requires a significant upfront investment in data storage and is susceptible to centralization as those with more space dominate the process.

Proof of Elapsed Time (PoET):

PoET, often used in permissioned blockchain networks, ensures fairness and energy efficiency by randomly selecting the next block miner based on a wait time completed by their computer. It is an egalitarian approach to block mining but relies on a trusted execution environment, making it potentially less secure against manipulation.

Embracing the Future: PoS and Blockchain Innovation

Proof of Stake (PoS) represents a transformative approach within blockchain technology, emphasizing energy efficiency, scalability, and stake-based rewards. But what is proof of stake? As a more sustainable alternative to Proof of Work, PoS encourages alignment between validators' actions and the network's well-being. Despite facing issues like the "Nothing at Stake" problem, centralization, and wealth disparity, the blockchain community has proactively developed countermeasures such as slashing protocols and decentralized governance. Projects like Ethereum 2.0, Cardano, Polkadot, Tezos, and Solana demonstrate PoS's practicality and evolving nature in underpinning the next wave of blockchain innovation. The future of PoS in the broader blockchain ecosystem looks promising, with its success hinging on continuous technological advancements and community-driven solutions to uphold a secure, equitable, and decentralized framework. The commitment to refining PoS and other consensus models will be crucial for fostering a resilient and adaptive blockchain infrastructure.

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