What is a Polkadot Validator?

profileErin Bruehl | September 6, 2022
what-is-a-polkadot-validator

A Polkadot validator verifies transactions in the Polkadot network.

Since Polkadot operates on a proof-of-stake model, validators are randomly chosen to verify transactions in a block. Once the transactions are confirmed, the block is added to the blockchain. Current is part of the active validator set on Polkadot.

What Is Polkadot?

The Polkadot protocol is a decentralized computing platform that provides interconnectivity between blockchains. Polkadot enables cryptocurrency and data to be shared across platforms that previously were incompatible, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. Similarly to Ethereum it also has an ecosytem of dApps that developers can build products and solutions on.

Because of this cross-network accessibility, Polkadot is designed to be rapidly scalable.

Polkadot is also a token, known as DOT.

How Does the Polkadot Network Work?

The main Polkadot blockchain is called the relay chain, and users are assigned parachains, which are parallel chains in the blockchain where they validate transactions.

The parachains handle a lot of the work for the relay chain. Because of this, the Polkadot network can process transactions much more quickly than other crypto networks. Polkadot can process over 1,000 transactions per second compared to only 7 per second for Bitcoin.

Polkadot is unique from Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other networks in that it allows for communication between different chains. Prior to Polkadot, each blockchain was a separate chain operating independently. Polkadot aims to solve this crypto problem by allowing inter-chain operations easily.

Polkadot runs on a proof-of-stake model, like Ethereum 2.0. Rather than mining coins as in proof-of-work models, participants stake their coins to qualify as validators. If they are chosen to validate a block of transactions, they are rewarded with DOT once their work is confirmed.

In addition to validators, Polkadot has nominators who back validators with their stake as a sign of trust in their work. Nominators commit some of their stake to specific validators; in exchange for this stake, nominators get a cut of the rewards earned by their trusted validators.

Like other proof-of-stake models, Polkadot relies on validators to ensure the ongoing security and authenticity of the entire ecosystem. This method supports the decentralized nature of the blockchain.

Requirements to Become a Polkadot Validator

Polkadot recommends that validators have substantial experience as system administrators. Security is essential when running a validator, so it’s essential that you know how to maintain this and handle all technical issues on your own.

If you set up your validator node improperly or if your node isn’t secure, a portion or all of your staked DOT could be lost. It’s wise to stake your DOT and nominate an established validator if you are not yet ready to act as a validator yourself.

You’ll also need to put up a minimum stake to be considered as a validator. Personally, you’ll at least need enough DOT to set up Controller and Stash accounts as well as some to cover transaction fees. The rest of your stake can come from your own coins or your nominators. The terms to become a nominator also vary as do the rewards so be sure to research these before you dive in.

Getting the Right Setup

Polkadot outlines the specifics of how to set up your validator node here. Most beginners run their validator on a Linux cloud server. Standard hardware is recommended to ensure you can process transactions quickly enough.

The Importance of Validators

All cryptocurrency models rely on members of the network to verify transactions and guard against fraud. Since there is no singular authority in the blockchain, members aim to safeguard the integrity of the network.

After a validator processes a block of transactions, it is added to the public blockchain. This ensures that coins are not double-spent and new coins are not fraudulently created since the entire blockchain is in the public ledger.

The decentralized nature of Polkadot relies on the work of validators.

Is It Profitable to Be a Polkadot Validator?

The amount you can make as a Polkadot validator depends on various factors, particularly the amount of DOT you stake. It’ll also vary according to the current DOT price, and cryptocurrency value can swing widely in short periods of time.

Validators are paid DOT tokens as rewards for their work. They generally take a percentage fee as reimbursement for the cost of running the validator node, and the remainder is then split between them and their nominators.

Currently, to become a nominator, you must stake a minimum of 10 DOT. This number can vary from time to time based on new governance protocols and you should always verify the minimum before diving in. If you don’t have the technical experience required to be a Polkadot validator, becoming a nominator is generally a better path to staking your coins.


References

What Is Polkadot (DOT)? Coinbase.

Can Polkadot Beat Ethereum 2.0 in the Transaction Fee Race? (November 2021). Analytics Insight.
Run a Validator (Polkadot). Polkadot.

How to Become a Polkadot Validator and Make Money. (May 2021). Market Realist.

How Do I Stake (Nominate) on Polkadot? Polkadot.

It Now Costs Over $10,000 To Stake Polkadot (and It’s Still Risky). (April 2021). Medium.

Current is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by Choice Financial Group, Member FDIC.

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