What are TON validators and how do they work?
If you are interested in the Telegram Open Network (TON), a decentralized layer-1 blockchain that aims to provide fast, scalable and secure transactions, you might want to know more about the role of validators in this network. Validators are network participants who validate blocks and earn Toncoin while contributing to network security. In this article, we will explain what validators do, how they are selected, and what benefits they offer to the network and its users. 🚀
Validators and nominators
TON uses the Proof of Stake consensus algorithm, which means that validators need to stake their own Toncoin as a collateral to participate in the validation process. This ensures that validators have an incentive to act honestly and follow the network rules, as they risk losing their stake if they behave maliciously or fail to perform their duties. 💰
However, not everyone who wants to support the network can become a validator, as there are certain requirements for hardware, network availability and stake amount. The minimum stake required to become a validator is 10,000 Toncoin, which is equivalent to about $1.2 million at the current market price. This is quite a high barrier for entry for most people. 😱
That's why TON also allows nominators, who are network participants who lend their assets to validators. Nominators can choose a validator they trust and delegate their stake to them. In return, they receive a share of the rewards earned by the validator, according to the pool settings. This way, nominators can support the network and earn passive income without having to run a validator node themselves. 🙌
Pools and smart contracts
Nominator pools are assets of a validator and nominators managed by a smart contract. A smart contract is a piece of code that executes automatically on the blockchain according to predefined rules and conditions. Smart contracts guarantee the correct use of borrowed coins and protect both validators and nominators from fraud or misuse. 🔒
There are different types of smart contracts for nominator pools on TON, each with its own features and advantages. One of them is the single nominator smart contract, which provides an isolated cold wallet for securing the validation process. A cold wallet is a wallet that is not connected to the internet and therefore less vulnerable to hacking or theft. 🛡️
The single nominator smart contract is particularly useful for validators who have enough self-stake to conduct independent validation without needing third-party nominators. This feature enhances validators' independence, security and protection against gas-spending attacks. Gas is the fee paid for executing transactions on the blockchain, and gas-spending attacks are malicious attempts to drain the funds of a validator by sending them many transactions with high gas fees. 😈
The single nominator smart contract also offers the ability to recover stakes during emergencies, such as elector upgrades. The elector is a smart contract that selects validators for each validation cycle based on their stake amount and performance. Sometimes, the elector may change its rules or parameters, which may affect the stakes of validators and nominators. The single nominator smart contract allows the owner to change the validator address if the wallet is compromised or withdraw their stake if needed. 🆘
The Bottom Line
Validators are essential for maintaining the security and efficiency of the TON blockchain network. They validate blocks and earn rewards by staking their own Toncoin or borrowing from nominators. Nominators can delegate their stake to validators and receive a share of their rewards without having to run a node themselves. Smart contracts ensure that validator pools are managed correctly and securely, and offer different options for validators and nominators depending on their preferences and needs. The single nominator smart contract is one of them, which provides an isolated cold wallet for validators who want to conduct independent validation without third-party nominators. 🙏
This article was based on information from TON Validators, a website that lists the TON nominator pools and explains how they work.