«The switch to Proof-of-Stake is complex but doable.»
Updated: Aug 22, 2022
In light of the upcoming ETH merge, we spoke to someone with first-hand experience in shifting from Proof-of-Work to Proof-of-Stake: Jeff Galloway, Co-founder of SafeCoin, and his team went through a similar process in 2021 to improve SafeCoin's environmental footprint. We wanted to know what they learned along the way and how it impacts SafeCoin's sustainability today.
GCR: Jeff, before we dive in, please tell us a little bit about SafeCoin. What is the idea behind $SAFE and what issues are you trying to solve?
Jeff: $SAFE was originally conceived to break down adoption barriers for cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology around safety and security. We aim to show that cryptocurrencies can provide greater utility, safety, and security for individuals, communities, and organizations while being environmentally friendly.
In order to accomplish this, SafeCoin has never had an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) or sale of any kind, which makes SafeCoin a completely fair launch project.
It is also built on a secure and efficient foundation while at the same time offering the best performance and features possible in Decentralized Finance (DeFi) today. The result is an entire community all drawn to the project for its ideals, that contribute to furthering blockchain technology and deeply care about solving environmental and financial problems throughout the world.
Like Bitcoin, SafeCoin has no majority owner and has a far more decentralized distribution than most of its DeFi competitors, having been mined, deployed, and traded by the community for many years.
This blog post is an unpaid guest post. It is intended to highlight sustainable considerations in ongoing crypto projects. Green Crypto Research’s intention is to foster discussions around the ESG dimensions of cryptocurrencies and build a like-minded community that is actively engaged in creating a more sustainable standard. We have not provided an ESG rating for SafeCoin or verified the statements presented here. This post does not include a recommendation or financial advice.
How does $SAFE differ from other coins?
$SAFE is currently the world's most energy efficient and performant/fastest blockchain in the world, with no close competitors. This distinction is achieved through a hybrid consensus and compression approach which merges Solana technology with fully random voter selection in its consensus, as well as other improvements such as compression efficiency.
$SAFE is also unique in that it offers the best DeFi technology available, including smart contracts and compatibility with Ethereum. The coin is based on Solana's fast and efficient proof-of-history technology, uses no external funding, and ensures full decentralization by distributing one hundred percent of the coins to the community.
Speaking of Solana: Why does a validator at SafeCoin only need 56 watts compared to Solana with 1,000 watts?
This was achieved through a number of efficiency improvements, the most notable being random-sample voting. Random-sample voting reduces consensus-related energy consumption by roughly a factor of 100. We also have additional improvements such as improved data compression which lower overall energy requirements.
What made you change your algorithm from Proof-of-Work (PoW) to Proof-of-Stake (PoS) in the first place and how did you proceed? How long did it take you to switch?
Right from our launch, we were always looking to find solutions to the obvious energy and centralization problems surrounding PoW. We started by switching algorithms to be ASIC-resistant, and actually switched them four times in a constant effort to decentralize and ensure that the community was represented in consensus.
As PoS systems evolved, it became clear that this was the future and it was just the next obvious step for us with our community ideals. Parallel transaction processing, which is much more efficient than other chains, was the obvious choice for us to make the switch. We believe that in a few years, almost all transactions will follow this model. Parallel processing is the simultaneous processing of multiple transactions using multiple threads on each CPU, thereby maximizing the most energy-efficient use of each computer involved, resulting in dramatically improved speed/performance.
It took us eight months to switch, deploying a swap-based approach, one-to-one from one chain to the other. If we only switched from PoW to PoS, it would have been much faster and we would encourage other projects to explore this.
move was considerably more complex in terms of address encryption (specifically the ecdsa to ed25519 encryption), which was a necessary move in order to achieve the features and level of efficiency we aimed for. If even a blockchain like Bitcoin decides to switch to PoS in a proper governance process, it would be possible, provided that the address encryption would not have to be changed.
According to your explorer, SafeCoin has a lot of transactions - almost 1.5 million within 24 hours and 459 million transactions since your launch. How come? Why do you have so many transactions?
Although this seems like a lot, it is actually just a small fraction of the transactions Solana processes for consensus. The reason we require roughly 100 times fewer transactions for consensus is again due to random sample voting. Our block time is only 400 ms, allowing for an instantaneous experience with smart contract-based dApps and Dex’s. The transactions are required for maintaining consensus at this incredible speed in a secure and decentralized manner. We intend to reduce these consensus transactions even further in our next upgrade.
How does $SAFE address sustainability? Which ESG dimension receives the most attention and why?
It is clear to us that $SAFE is the most energy-efficient blockchain and DeFi platform in t
he world. Accordingly, we pay the highest attention to the environmental category, as we believe it can most directly make the Earth a better and safer place. However, we are constantly striving to further develop SafeCoin in terms of sustainability.
We believe we can make further improvements in the environmental category with the positive side effect of further strengthening the social and governance components simultaneously.
Allow me to elaborate briefly: SafeCoin was able to improve the energy efficiency of the Solana blockchain by a factor of 3000, and we believe we improved energy efficiency by another roughly 50 percent in our latest upgrade. We are preparing to benchmark this in the near future. We are also pursuing carbon credits for our chain, and the applications in our ecosystem such as decentralized exchanges, NFT markets, and more that have either been recently released or are in development.
As we generate more awareness we also believe the adoption of our chain can have a considerable social impact and we are doing everything we can to support and foster this. For example, we have already become a haven for environmentally conscious validator operators who want to contribute to crypto consensus in the most environmentally responsible way possible.
Furthermore, we are on the verge of launching decentralized exchanges which will not only allow vastly superior performance and speed but reduce the carbon footprint of markets as traders and market makers adopt the technology. The SafeCoin community is discussing various ways to achieve 100 times carbon negatives by the end of 2023, with the goal of leading the crypto space in environmental responsibility.
Lastly, we're interested in your take on the upcoming Ethereum Merge: What do you think is the biggest difficulty in switching the consensus mechanism based on your experience?
First of all, let me say that we fully support $ETH's merge. However, we believe that it is very difficult for projects the size of Ethereum to change in a rapidly evolving crypto ecosystem. As an example, next-generation blockchains such as SafeCoin or Solana process transactions in something called a parallel runtime (multi-threaded transaction processing). The energy efficiency gains associated with this are dramatic, as is the difference between PoW and PoS.
When the Merge is fully realized, it will achieve a state that many of its competitors were at technologically in 2020. Meanwhile, there is an incredibly fast advancement in the crypto universe. For Ethereum to have performance and energy efficiency like SafeCoin and Solana, they would require a parallel runtime which is, for all intents and purposes, a complete rewrite of the underlying technology.
It is not even conceivable for this to be achieved in Eth 3.0 without writing it from scratch. Meanwhile, other technologies will emerge and further advancement continues. Ethereum will thus need to advance even faster than it has in the past. That said, Eth 2.0's sharded-chain architecture makes it harder than ever to do so, as it becomes too complex to evolve, and it gets increasingly difficult to make competent governance decisions.
But as explained at the beginning: Overall, we applaud the work of Eth 2.0 and have no doubts about its future significance. The future holds a wealth of different developments in the crypto sector.
... and we look forward to experiencing and helping to shape these developments. Thank you for the interesting interview, Jeff.
SafeCoin, the world's first full blockchain fork of Solana, is a decentralized community-driven project with a growing and dedicated community. SafeCoin's goals are aligned with the vision and necessity of building a safe, secure, and decentralized foundation capable of realizing the full potential of what blockchain has to offer humanity and the environment we depend upon. By putting safety, security, and fundamentals first, Safecoin is able to offer unparalleled features for a growing decentralized community. www.safecoin.org
Jeff Galloway, Founder