Staking Sidechains? New Paper Proposes Twist on Bitcoin Tech

Rachel Rose O'Leary
Sep 27, 2017 at 20:10 UTC
Updated Sep 27, 2017 at 21:25 UTC
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A pseudonymous developer is seeking to refresh an old idea for boosting bitcoin’s functionality.

Named ‘proof-of-mainstake,’ the paper proposes an incentive system for the mining of sidechains, blockchains with alternative rulesets that developers believe could one day be “attached” to bitcoin. At its core, the idea proposes securing sidechains, designed to boost the functionality of bitcoin, by entering miners into a kind of lottery system.

In this way, the proof-of-mainstake proposal aims to solve the issue of miner incentives by allowing traders to bet on a sidechain with real bitcoin, an incentive scheme similar to what’s being used in ethereum’s still-in-development proof-of-stake protocol, Casper.

With proof-of-mainstake, miners would put coins aside on the bitcoin blockchain for the specific purpose of using outputs from those coins as a kind of lottery ticket. The winner of that lottery would then create a block and bribe miners to accept that block in the main bitcoin blockchain.

The innovation claimed is that the proposal encourages miners to better maintain the sidechains, without discouraging or hindering their ability to compete for bitcoin’s lucrative rewards.

The proposal follows years of discussion on a concept that, over time, has been proposed as a solution to nearly every perceived bitcoin problem, including privacy, scalability and governance. But while promising, the idea has struggled to come to life, mostly over the issue of how to incentivize miners to secure transactions on the alternative chains.

Whether this new idea will be able to win favor from developers remains to be seen, however, given that it takes aim at drivechain, a well-regarded idea with an emerging developer community, the paper will likely add to the discussion.

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