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Moonriver On Track to Be Decentralized with Active Staking and Collation Quickly After Launch

Singapore – April 14, 2021 – Moonbeam, the Ethereum-compatible smart contract platform on Polkadot, has completed several technology initiatives in preparation for the launch of a decentralized, fully-functioning parachain. This push to decentralization was made possible by the development of a custom parachain staking pallet, a new extension for the Cumulus consensus mechanism named Nimbus, and the enthusiastic participation of many third-party collators who plan to produce blocks on the Moonriver and Moonbeam MainNets. This approach makes it more difficult for collators to “play favorites” when producing blocks by sequencing, inserting, or excluding transactions — behaviors that are frequently observed on prominent proof-of-work blockchains today.

From the beginning, the Moonbeam team prioritized having a decentralized set of collators supporting block production. A lot of work went into achieving this, including:

  • Recruitment and support for third-party collators
  • Introduction of new staking mechanisms to nominate collators
  • Extension of the core Cumulus consensus mechanism to add extended filters for choosing block authors

These three initiatives have already resulted in more than 200 active nodes on the parachain-based network, representing a much larger and diverse set of block producers than are currently represented on other parachain test networks.

Parachains get shared security and finality from validators on the Relay Chain. However, a decentralized collator set provides both resiliency for liveness for block production on the parachain, and de-risks the possibility of a small number of collator entities censoring transactions or taking advantage of their ability to insert their own transactions. This is particularly important for DeFi use cases where there are miner extracted value (MEV) opportunities. Having a decentralized set of collators also provides a permissionless mechanism for the community to support certain collators (or not support others) to be in the active set for block production.

Expanded Collator Set to 16

The active collator set on the Moonbase Alpha TestNet now includes 16 participants. This is planned to increase to 32 in time for the Moonriver launch.

This active set includes a diverse array of both well-established infrastructure companies and newer, enthusiastic startups that are committed to the project. Some of the current collators include Blockdaemon, Chorus One, Stakefish, Figment, Ankr, OnFinality, Bware Labs, and Staking4All.

“Staking4All is glad to run a collator on Moonbeam!” says Shez, who has run a collator on Moonbeam since December. “We chose to run a collator on Moonbeam because we see great potential due to the team’s focus on high-quality partnerships like SushiSwap, Covalent, Seascape, DIA and many more. These partnerships will bring a rich ecosystem of smart contracts to the Polkadot network.”

“We’re passionate about helping Moonbeam build Moonbase Alpha as we move towards a Web3 future, that’s why we’re playing our part in testing their alpha network by running collators,” said James Bayly, “Moonbeam is a big step towards bringing true interoperability to Polkadot and attracting thousands of expert Ethereum developers into our ecosystem. That is why it is one of the most promising Polkadot projects in our community. OnFinality is happy to help by providing free API shared node services, one click dedicated node deployments, and running collators on their TestNet.”

Custom Parachain Staking Pallet

While Parity has developed a staking mechanism for the main Relay Chains (Polkadot and Kusama), there is currently no staking pallet for parachains included in Substrate. So the Moonbeam team built their own.

Moonbeam’s parachain-staking pallet determines how token holders are able to select collators that produce blocks. In this system, token holders are able to specify how much of their total stake (funds) are delegated to each collator. That means an individual has the power to choose who performs block production in the form of approval votes. In this system, token holders are the ultimate decision makers. Learn more about staking on Moonbeam.

Extension to the Cumulus Consensus Mechanism

Moonbeam engineers have also built a new extension for Cumulus named Nimbus. It serves two important roles for the network: to select a collator to produce a block, and to throttle the number of blocks created to prevent overproduction. Without Nimbus, it would not be possible to efficiently scale the number of collators supporting the network.

Nimbus works by qualifying collators through three filters, which reduces the number of potential block authors for any given block:

  1. Does the collator have the required amount of stake?
  2. Is the collator a member of the pseudo-random subset of authors chosen for the next block?
  3. Who submitted the block first?

By approaching block production this way, Moonbeam is able to reduce the potential monopoly of collators with consistently faster connections, while effectively limiting the number of eligible block producers at any given time.

Learn More

Moonbeam will launch first on Kusama as Moonriver, which is expected shortly, once parachain functionality is available on Kusama. To learn more about Moonriver, visit the page.

About the Moonbeam Network

Moonbeam is an Ethereum-compatible smart contract platform on the Polkadot network that makes it easy to build natively interoperable applications. This Ethereum compatibility allows developers to deploy existing Solidity smart contracts and DApp frontends to Moonbeam with minimal changes. As a parachain on the Polkadot network, Moonbeam will benefit from the shared security of the Polkadot relay chain and integrations with other chains that are connected to Polkadot. Currently in active development by PureStake, Moonbeam is expected to reach MainNet by mid-2021. Learn more: