And with great power – and decentralization – comes great responsibility. Blockchain project creators have to make many decisions, including which consensus mechanism to use. As with many cryptocurrencies, there is no single “industry-wide” solution or preference, and there are multiple details to review when making a choice.
Although security and reliability are always top priorities, forward-looking blockchain projects should take into account project-specific details and evolving trends before making a final decision. Below, nine members of the Cointelegraph Innovation Circle discuss the factors a blockchain project should consider when choosing a consensus mechanism and why they can play a role in long-term success.
Safety and stability of the chain
The chosen consensus mechanism must ensure that the integrity and immutability of the blockchain is not compromised. A more energy efficient mechanism can contribute to sustainability and reduce operating costs. Different consensus mechanisms provide varying degrees of decentralization, and choosing the most appropriate mechanism that aligns with the project’s goals and values is key. – Jason Fernandez, Adlonam Company
Your target customer
Who will buy your product? Do your customers value the moats created by sunk costs (proof of work)? Do they have a high tolerance for risk, or do they, alternatively, have large budgets for audits (smart contracts)? Do they want arbitrage opportunities (Proof of Stake, DeFi)? Are they more concerned about sharing data with user protections (proof of authenticity)? How important is measurement? Your choices grow. -Stephanie So, Geek
Consider the importance of scalability. Some consensus mechanisms are better suited than others to deliver high throughput performance during high-volume situations. If the Web3 project wants to reach a large number of users and activity in the future, it must build using fully capable blockchain solutions from day one. -Wolfgang Rückerl, ENT Technologies AG
When developing consensus mechanisms, developers must consider the advantages and disadvantages associated with each and whether they have the necessary infrastructure to support them. A project with low funding cannot afford a Proof of Work mechanism, while a project with a narrow user base should choose Proof of Authority instead of Proof of Stake to help ease the setup process and prevent a hostile takeover. -Abhishek Singh, Confessor
Striking a balance between scalability, interoperability, and privacy is crucial. Proof of Work (PoW) is secure, but not scalable. PoS technology enhances productivity, but may risk decentralization. For cross-chain compatibility, choose mechanisms that work well with other networks. Enhance programmable privacy with secure multiparty computation, but note the computational cost. Weigh these trade-offs to align with your project goals. – Thiago Serudio, Partesia Blockchain
New and emerging methods
Consensus mechanisms are the foundation of your project, and there are actually many mechanisms that go beyond Proof of Work (PoW) and Proof of Stake (PoS), such as Proof of Power, Proof of Activity, and Proof of Replication. Other types, such as proof of identity, are emerging and can be somewhat controversial. Make sure you fully understand the landscape and choose what best matches the long-term success of your project. – Megan Nivold, ping x
Something that emerging protocols often ignore is sustainability. Beyond scalability, sustainability can include both the energy requirements of the solution and the ability of the community to continue its function. While some may think that this is the source of other, more important concerns, it is worth considering how important value exchange is to any concern over an uninhabitable planet. – Oleksandr Lutskevich, CEX.IO
Long term goals
It’s important to choose a mechanism that fits the long-term goals of your project rather than just following what’s popular. For example, Proof of Stake has been an amazing innovation as an alternative to the energy-expensive Proof-of-Work mechanism. However, it risks facing the disadvantages of increased centralization and reduced security, which could become long-term issues. – Shiraz Ahmed, Storm Partners
Proof of work is frowned upon in the EU; Proof of stake is favored due to climate concerns. Each mining server tries to validate the transaction, but only one ultimately wins. Gary Gensler and the US Securities and Exchange Commission prefer Proof of Work (PoW) as a consensus mechanism because it is less likely to be captured by whales by investors. However, as a counter-argument, Blackrock is investing in miners now, so Proof of Work (PoW) may not be immune to this. – Zain Jaafar, Zain projects
This article was published by the Cointelegraph Innovation Circle, a vetted organization of top executives and experts in the blockchain technology industry who are building the future through the power of communications, collaboration, and thought leadership. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph.