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Staking Hub: Casper

Casper is a layer-one blockchain purpose-built for application development and scalability that aims to support applications without sacrificing usability, cost, decentralization, or security. On March 18th, Mrinal Manohar (CEO of Casper Labs) joined us in Staking Hub to answer all of our questions. 

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Quick Takes

  • Casper is a “pure” Proof of Stake chain that is completely open and permissionless.
  • Built from scratch Virtual Machine that supports Rust and Assemblyscript.
  • Gas futures market will create more predictable fees on Casper.
  • Target reward rate for stakers in year 1 will be ~15%.
  • Equivocations will result in stake being unbondable or transferable for ~90 days and will not earn rewards.

What is Casper?

Casper is a new Layer 1 blockchain that uses a CBC Casper-based Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus protocol the team calls Highway to secure the network and verify transactions. The network is designed to be provably live and secure without sacrificing decentralization or scalability. 

Mrinal stated that blockchain technology is pointless without full decentralization and security, and Casper has solved the scalability trilema purely from engineering and mathematical efforts. 

“Most other Layer 1’s start with the premise of “What reasonable sacrifices to decentralization or security can we make in order to enable scalability”; our view is that without full decentralization and security, blockchain is a pointless technology and is solving problems that have already been solved.”

Mrinal Manohar, CasperLabs CEO

Scalability

Casper achieves scalability by eliminating as much message passing overhead as possible while ensuring that all the stake is properly represented. This is done by:

  • Having no random sampling in the validator pool. All stake that is bonded participates in consensus. 
  • Not operating on a Delegated Proof of Stake model (DPoS).
  • Eliminating permissioning & councils.
  • Having security measures that mirror the Nakamoto consensus.

Accessibility

Mrinal also believes that another element of scalability is accessibility, which is why the CasperLabs team built their Virtual Machine from scratch. The Casper Virtual Machine will support highly tested and more traditional programming languages like Rust, Assemblyscript, and eventually, Javascript & C++, which will make Casper more accessible to Web 2 developers.

“The Ethereum Virtual Machine is 5 years old at this point and only supports a single language (solidity) which is no doubt popular in blockchain, but it’s used by 20,000 developers, versus the roughly 30 million developers out there.”

Mrinal Manohar, CasperLabs CEO

Predictable Fees

The Casper blockchain is designed to be an attractive platform for enterprise level applications. One of their focuses is making sure fees are predictable for applications using Casper. This is done two ways: 

  • Gas Futures Market – This allows space of future blocks to be bought in advance, which gives companies the ability to predict future costs. 
  • Fiat Denominated Fees – Casper will be using decentralized oracles to measure gas rate in fiat pairs, which will eliminate the need to convert token price to determine the ultimate cost.

Casper is also designed to be easily integrated into current business models, which is why it will feature flex payment codes and weighted keys. 

“We believe everyone deserves enterprise grade features, even startups. AWS is enterprise grade for everyone.”

Mrinal Manohar, CasperLabs CEO

The Casper Token

The main use cases for the Casper token (CSPR) will primarily be staking, paying for transaction fees, and participating in governance. 

Reward Rate

The estimated reward rate for staking CSPR will be ~15% for the first year. New issuance for CSPR is fixed at 6-7% annually and any change to this would need to be proposed and accepted by two thirds of the consensus vote. 

Slashing Risks

There is no traditional risk (i.e. losing tokens) when staking CSPR, but the protocol will suspend faulty nodes. During this time, stakers will not receive any rewards, and a validator must send a special transaction to resume validating. 

If a validator performs an equivocation (i.e. double signs a block), then a validator will be jailed for ~90 days, though the exact time is still being discussed. During this time, all stake is locked and untransferable and stakers will not be earning their share of rewards. 

Wallet Support

There won’t be any self-custody options at launch, but BitGo will provide custody and staking support for CSPR holders who do not want to stake via CLI. That said, Ledger support will be available before trading starts which is some time in May.

Governance

Any software upgrades or changes to the protocol must be accepted by two thirds of staked CSPR participating in consensus. Governance discussions and proposals will be fully transparent and open source on GitHub, but only validators participate in consensus, not delegators. Mrinal recommends delegating your stake to a validator who shares your views if you prefer not to run your own validator. 

Special Thanks

Special thanks to Mrinal for spending an hour with Staking Hub to answer all of our questions! 

Thank you Gavin for co-hosting and thanks to our Staking Hub community for all of your wonderful questions.

Feel free to join our Staking Hub Telegram group if you haven’t already.

Important Casper Links:

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