Ethereum is currently the largest proof of stake (P0S) network after transitioning from a proof of work (PoW) mechanism late last year. This means that the network now uses validators to carry out transactions as opposed to miners using energy-intensive computers to solve complex mathematical problems to do the same thing – something that has been applauded as a step in the right direction by many in the space.
However, the location of Ethereum nodes worldwide, particularly their concentration in a particular location, has raised concerns among participants after a Twitter user pointed out a disturbing fact.
On Sunday, a Twitter user that goes by Hamzah Khan made a post revealing that over 50% of Ethereum’s nodes are being hosted in datacenters in the United States.
There are currently about 5,500 nodes running Ethereum, and about half are based in the US.
Of these, over half are in a single data center in Virginia, 20 minutes away from the white house and the CIA headquarters.
FUD Morning 🙏
— Hamzah Khan (@_khanhamzah) July 9, 2023
More interestingly though was that of this massive share of the node distribution being hosted in the country, more than 50% were being hosted in a single datacenter.
The location of this particular datacenter was of the most interest. The datacenter which is located in the state of Virginia is reportedly only 20 minutes away from the headquarters of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), as well as the White House.
Now, while the location has been pointed out, it shows no participation of the US government in the running of Ethereum. Rather, as the Ether.fi website points out, it shows that Ethereum is not as decentralized as participants would like.
Additionally, Mike Silagadze, CEO of Ether.fi, also responded to the tweet to clarify that the number of nodes on its website needed to be updated. Compared to the 5,500 on the website, Silagadze said there were now around 6,800 Ethereum nodes running. But as another Twitter user pointed out, it doesn’t change the ‘distribution’ of the nodes already pointed out above.
Becoming a validator on Ethereum carries a high barrier to entry because valuators are required to have a total of 32 ETH. At current prices, this translates to around $60,000 to run a single validator node. And since a large percentage of users cannot afford this, liquid staking protocols have seen a lot of success for the services they offer.
Liquid staking protocols such as Lido Finance and Rocket Pool allow investors to still become validators even if they don’t have up to 32 ETH. Users are able to pool their ETH together to make a validator. This way, they are able to earn rewards without operating a full node themselves.
Over the last year, protocols such as Lido Finance have seen sharp growth, propelling them to the forefront of ETH staking. Currently, there is over $14 billion staked on the Lido liquid staking protocol, accounting for around 30% of the total staked ETH. In total, liquid staking now accounts for more than 37% of the total staked ETH, and rising.
This growth was born out of the need for more decentralization in the Ethereum network as nodes become more spread out. However, despite the rise in liquid staking, Ethereum nodes are still highly concentrated, mainly in the United States.
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