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Harmony Launches Staking, Becomes the First Sharded Proof-of-Stake Blockchain to go Live

Harmony upgraded its mainnet to support staking, becoming the first blockchain to successfully combine sharding and proof-of-stake. Launch partners include Binance, Huobi and BitMax as well as professional validators such as Blockdaemon, Stake.fish and Figment Networks. Stakers on Harmony can expect to earn annual yields ranging from 45% to 15% in the first year.

Background

In 2018, the combination of proof-of-stake and sharding emerged as a leading solution for blockchain scaling. Projects like Ethereum 2.0, Near Protocol and Harmony adopted this approach for its promise to increase transaction throughput and reduce cost, while preserving decentralization.

Theoretical promise quickly gave way to the daunting technical complexity of building such a system. Fast forward to 2020 and no project has yet been able to crack the nut of sharding and proof-of-stake. That is until Harmony announced it had successfully upgraded its 4-shard network to support staking.

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Impact

Being first is one thing, but the real question is does this blockchain architecture deliver on promises? And here Harmony’s making remarkable progress.

Transactions on Harmony settle in 8 seconds, a welcome change for those accustomed to waiting minutes for Ethereum transactions to finalize. Costs are significantly cheaper as well. A transaction on Harmony will set you back only $0.000·001.

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Sharding allows Harmony to achieve these results without sacrificing decentralization. Harmony’s network consists of over 320 public nodes and Harmony plans to increase that number to 1000 and beyond by the end of the year. By contrast chains like EOS and Libra scale at the cost of decentralization by limiting their networks to 21 and 27 nodes respectively.

Proof-of-stake blockchains have been criticized for “rich get richer” economics, in which the largest stakers earn the most. Harmony’s novel staking mechanism called “Effective Proof of Stake” counters this problem by capping the rewards of large stakers and boosting the rewards of smaller ones.

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Future

Now that the core protocol work is complete, Harmony will shift focus to solving a potentially harder challenge: adoption. Harmony’s EVM compatibility makes it easy for developers in the Ethereum ecosystem to test out the new network. In addition to the protocol’s features, a comprehensive set of developer grants are planned to encourage developers to take the leap.

“Now that we’re equipped with a battle-tested base layer, we will shift gears to pursue adoption with the same nonstop execution that enabled us to launch the first sharded PoS blockchain,” said Harmony CEO, Stephen Tse. “Our scalability, speed and cost will enable use cases and user experiences that no other blockchain before us could.”

Harmony’s roadmap for 2020 includes reducing settlement times below 8 seconds, transitioning to community governance, and pursuing several promising application areas including cross-border finance and branded digital collectables.

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