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What Lido staking dominance may mean for Ethereum’s future


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Lido DAO token holders have commenced voting to determine whether the DeFi platform should reduce its staking pool. The vote is a follow-up to a governance proposal released on June 24.

The voting process results from a month-long deliberation over Lido’s staking dominance and whether it should limit itself to curb potential centralization risks.

Lido currently holds 31% of all staked Ether on the Ethereum proof-of-stake blockchain, the Beacon chain. The staking dominance has raised fears within the Ethereum community, and critics fear it will threaten Ethereum’s decentralization.

The vote is expected to end on July 1, and the result will determine whether Lido will self-limit or not. Should the majority of voters vote in favor, another vote will take place on how the self-limiting process should work.

Concerns over stETH dominance

In the governance proposal, Lido stated that its staking dominance would give it more voting power once the Beacon chain goes live. As a platform that started to counter centralized exchanges, it argued that such centralized voting power poses an existential threat to the blockchain.

The Ethereum community has raised similar fears about the centralization of voting powers. The DeFi platform currently has around one-third of all staked Ether, which could give voting leverage once the transition to the Beacon chain is complete.

Vitalik Buterin, the Ethereum co-founder, has argued that no single protocol should have a majority in staking ETH. He opined that such dominance, combined with Lido’s governance structure, is potentially a dangerous point of centralization.

Further, it stated the proposition is premised on the belief that other liquid staking protocols would also limit their exposure. This would effectively allow smaller protocols to meet the supply shortfall.

What Lido staking dominance means for ETH2.0

Ethereum’s transition to a PoS blockchain means it will rely on validators to validate transactions on the blockchain. Unlike a PoW blockchain that requires miners to expend excess energy to solve complex mathematical problems.

However, to operate a validator node, a user must deposit 32 ETH, which is a long shot for many users. Lido, on the other hand, as a staking service provider, allows users to bypass this requirement and earn staking rewards.

According to data from Etherscan, roughly 12.6 million ETH is staked in the ETH2.0, which amounts to 10.6% of the circulating supply of ETH. Of the 12.6 million ETH staked, approximately 4.2 million have been staked through Lido by 73,369 stakers, making Lido the most used staking pool on Ethereum.

This means, should Ethereum transition to its PoS blockchain with Lido still having the lion’s share of the staking dominance, it would give the DeFi platform excessive influence over transaction verification which many warn could pose a risk. Some concerns include validator slashing, governance attacks, and smart contract exploits.

On the other hand, Lido’s staking dominance could help prevent a takeover by a centralized exchange and ensure the blockchain remains decentralized.

stETH remains depegged

The staked Ether, which is supposed to be pegged to ETH, remains depegged after a wave of massive sell-offs. Speculations have profused about the security of the token and whether its depegging could spell more chaos for the crypto ecosystem.

On June 16, Alameda Capital, one of the largest holders of stETH, dumped its stETH holdings, a massive $57 million. This is coupled with the continued financial troubles of Celsius and Three Arrows Capital, both large holders of stETH.

As of the time of press, stETH has not gained parity with ETH and is trading at $1,173.

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