The crypto ecosystem has positioned itself as a disruptive niche compared to the traditional centralized financial architecture. This upcoming decentralized marketplace is based on blockchain technology, the fundamental infrastructure of which is supported by multiple nodes instead of a global central authority. Blockchain nodes can be compared to small servers – their primary role is to store the blocks of data that make up a blockchain network.
These decentralized nodes are connected and facilitate the exchange of the latest blockchain data to keep the network up to date. Simply put, nodes are the supporting system for blockchain environments. While the concept may seem technical, a node can be a computer, laptop, or other devices, including smartphones. Today we have many blockchain networks such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and Dogecoin whose operations are facilitated by node validators.
The node validation process involves allocating resources such as memory and computing power to store data and verify transactions that are added to a blockchain network. For example, the Bitcoin blockchain uses Proof of Work (PoW) consensus, forcing miners to allocate resources for validating transactions and securing the network.
In return, miners are rewarded with network rewards for each block added to the blockchain. Currently, the network reward on the Bitcoin network is 6.25 BTC after the May 2020 halving. Likewise, the Ethereum and Dogecoin blockchain networks depend on node validators to operate efficiently.
There are two main types of knots; complete and light. The former applies all the rules of a particular blockchain network, while the latter refers to data from entire blockchain nodes. With lightweight nodes, users can run a node without storing all of the block data. However, these knots are not as reliable as full knots.
A costly affair for small players
Running a blockchain node can be quite expensive for small players, although it is a lucrative opportunity for crypto stakeholders. The Bitcoin blockchain, which is currently the largest, requires at least 2 gigabytes of memory and 500 gigabytes of SSD or HDD. In addition, node validators require a fast internet connection of at least 50 Kbps, not to mention that the Bitcoin blockchain is growing at an average of 1 GB per week.
Even memes networks like Dogecoin are still out of the reach of most stakeholders looking to run a full blockchain node. The Dogecoin network requires node validators must have at least 50 gigabytes of free disk space and 2 gigabytes of memory (RAM). This is quite difficult for the majority of the world’s population, given that only a few have access to sophisticated devices capable of handling node validation.
It’s no surprise that conservationists have criticized the energy used to mine PoW cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. Among the main critics was Tesla’s Elon Musk. The company withdrew from its position of accepting Bitcoin payments until miners prove that more than 50% of the energy comes from clean energy.
Switch to Alternative Blockchain Networks
Today, the blockchain ecosystem has evolved to offer multiple networks where users can run economic nodes. Protocols such as Minima Global introduce ultralight blockchain environments that can scale to IoT or mobile devices. This decentralized network creates the possibility of an inclusive, scalable, secure and resilient blockchain protocol by allowing users to run full build and validate nodes from their smartphones.
With the number of smartphone users worldwide currently at 3.8 billion, Minima is harnessing the potential of this booming market to further decentralize its blockchain network. In doing so, the protocol created the possibility of a censorship-resistant, truly autonomous and accountable blockchain network.
For a long time, the traditional financial market had to contend with the shortcomings of a centralized ecosystem. Some of them include limited access to financial services due to cumbersome KYC processes and other nuances. Cryptocurrencies are changing the narrative by introducing a decentralized ecosystem where everyone can participate in one way or another.
This paradigm shift requires effective support structures, starting with nodes that form a central part of blockchain environments. Therefore, it makes sense for crypto stakeholders to make node validation a cost-effective affair. This will improve the chances of evolving the decentralized aspect of existing blockchain networks.
That said, upcoming blockchain designs offering smartphone compatibility could provide a solid solution. In essence, building blockchain networks with mainstream adoption in mind will likely accelerate the growth of decentralized networks. Additionally, smartphone-enabled blockchain nodes offer a significant value proposition to small players who have fallen victim to the current system.
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