What is Ethereum staking?
Staking is the act of depositing 32 ETH to activate validator software. As a validator you’ll be responsible for storing data, processing transactions, and adding new blocks to the blockchain. This will keep Ethereum secure for everyone and earn you new ETH in the process.
Rewards are given for actions that help the network reach a consensus. You'll get rewards for running software that properly batches transactions into new blocks and checks the work of other validators because that's what keeps the chain running securely.
The network gets stronger against attacks as more ETH is staked, as it then requires more ETH to control a majority of the network. To become a threat, you would need to hold the majority of validators, which means you'd need to control the majority of ETH in the system–that's a lot!
Stakers don't need energy-intensive computers to participate in a Proof of Stake (PoS) system - just a home computer or (in the future) a smartphone. This will make Ethereum better for the environment.
- Most impactful
- Full control
- Full rewards
Solo staking on Ethereum is the gold standard for staking. It provides full participation rewards, improves the decentralization of the network, and never requires trusting anyone else with your funds.
Those considering solo staking should have at least 32 ETH and a dedicated computer connected to the internet ~24/7. Some technical know-how is helpful, but easy-to-use tools now exist to help simplify this process.
- Your 32 ETH
- Your validator keys
- Entrusted node operation
If you don't want or don't feel comfortable dealing with hardware but still want to stake your 32 ETH, staking-as-a-service options allow you to delegate the hard part while you earn native block rewards.
These options usually walk you through creating a set of validator credentials, uploading your signing keys to them, and depositing your 32 ETH. This allows the service to validate on your behalf.
This method of staking requires a certain level of trust in the provider. To limit counter-party risk, the keys to withdrawing your ETH are usually kept in your possession.
- Stake any amount
- Earn rewards
- Keep it simple
Several pooling solutions now exist to assist users who do not have or feel comfortable staking 32 ETH.
Many of these options include what is known as 'liquid staking' which involves an ERC-20 liquidity token that represents your staked ETH.
Liquid staking enables easy and anytime exiting and makes staking as simple as a token swap. This option also allows users to hold custody of their assets in their own Ethereum wallet.
Pooled staking is not native to the Ethereum network. Third parties are building these solutions, and they carry their own risks.
- Least impactful
- Highest trust assumptions
Many centralized exchanges provide staking services if you are not yet comfortable holding ETH in your own wallet. They can be a fallback to allow you to earn some yield on your ETH holdings with minimal oversight or effort.
The trade-off here is that centralized providers consolidate large pools of ETH to run large numbers of validators. This can be dangerous for the network and its users as it creates a large centralized target and point of failure, making the network more vulnerable to attack or bugs.
If you don't feel comfortable holding your own keys, that's okay. These options are here for you. In the meantime, consider checking out the ethereum.org wallets page, where you can get started learning how to take true ownership of your funds. When you're ready, come back and level up your staking game by trying one of the self-custody pooled staking services offered.
As you may have noticed, there are many ways to participate in Ethereum staking. These paths target a wide range of users and ultimately are each unique and vary in terms of risks, rewards, and trust assumptions. Some are more decentralized, battle-tested, and/or risky than others. We provide some information on popular projects in the space but always do your own research before sending ETH anywhere.