Orbs Releases Smart Contract for Validators in TON Blockchain

Orbs, a public blockchain infrastructure designed for mass usage applications, has announced the release of a new smart contract called the single nominator for validators in the Telegram Open Network (TON) blockchain. The contract provides an isolated cold wallet for validators to secure their validation process, enhancing their independence, security, and protection against gas-spending attacks.

In the TON blockchain network, validators participate in a proof-of-stake consensus algorithm by staking their cryptocurrency holdings to support the network’s security and transaction processing. The nominator essentially nominates a validator to represent their stake in the network and earn rewards on their behalf. The validator, in turn, is responsible for validating transactions and adding new blocks to the blockchain.

The single nominator smart contract provides an option for the core team’s nominator pool smart contract. The alternative was developed in-house to provide security for validators who stake their funds. The contract provides an isolated cold wallet for validators to secure their validation process and prevent gas-spending attacks. The contract also offers the ability to recover stakes during emergencies, such as elector upgrades.

The contract has been audited by CertiK, a Web3, blockchain, and smart contract security firm, which recently announced a partnership with TON to audit future projects on the network. Orbs has released the single nominator contract to the community as a free, open-source product.

The release of the single nominator smart contract is a significant development for validators in the TON blockchain network. The contract offers a secure and independent way for validators to participate in the proof-of-stake consensus algorithm, providing enhanced security and protection against gas-spending attacks. The contract’s auditing by CertiK adds an extra layer of security and confidence in the product’s reliability.

Orbs is a leading public blockchain infrastructure designed for mass usage applications. The platform aims to provide a scalable, secure, and decentralized infrastructure for developers to build their blockchain applications. Orbs is committed to advancing the adoption of blockchain technology by providing a user-friendly and developer-friendly platform for building decentralized applications.

In conclusion, the release of the single nominator smart contract by Orbs is a significant development for validators in the TON blockchain network. The contract offers enhanced security and protection against gas-spending attacks, allowing validators to participate in the proof-of-stake consensus algorithm in a secure and independent way. Orbs’ commitment to advancing the adoption of blockchain technology is demonstrated through the release of this free, open-source product, which is audited by CertiK, adding an extra layer of security and reliability to the contract.


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Slim Odds of Slashing and Best Practices to Avoid it

A fundamental developer of the Ethereum ecosystem said that since the debut of the Beacon Chain on December 1, 2020, there have only been 226 validators sliced out of a total of 524,060 validators, which is barely 0.04% of the total. This information was provided by the developer. Slashing happens when a validator breaks the rules that govern the proof-of-stake consensus. This often results in the removal of the validator from the network and the loss of a part of the Ether (ETH) that was pledged as collateral. The Ethereum core developer known as “Superphiz” pointed out these low cutting rates in a tweet on February 23. He said that staking ETH should not be a worry since the probabilities of having it slashed are very low.

In addition, Superphiz suggested a total of four up-and-coming best practices as a means of lowering the chance of being reduced even more. Because many slashings are the result of unsuccessful system migrations, one of these procedures is erasing any existing chain data on older staking machines and then reinstalling and reformatting the validator. Additionally, Superphiz advised use a technique known as “doppelganger identification,” which examines the validator’s keys to see whether or not they are operational before beginning the validation process.

The purpose of these steps is to make the process of staking ETH more safe and to convince users that the chance of having their stakes lowered is quite low. Staking Ethereum is an essential component of the Ethereum network since it contributes to the network’s overall security and offers a passive revenue opportunity to users who donate Ether. The move from a proof-of-work consensus algorithm to a proof-of-stake consensus algorithm is scheduled to take place as part of the next Ethereum 2.0 update. This change is expected to make staking ETH even more significant.

Users should have trust in staking their Ethereum (ETH) because to the low rate of slashing that occurs within the Ethereum ecosystem as well as the best practices that are advised by Superphiz. Users have the ability to further mitigate the risks associated with staking and contribute to the overall security of the Ethereum network by following the established best practices and taking the required safeguards.


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POSA Publishes Two White Papers

On February 21, a collection of white papers was released by the Proof of Stake Partnership (POSA), a nonprofit industry organization. These white papers investigate the legal status of deposit tokens in regard to their respective subfields of the law, namely securities law and tax law, within the framework of the securities legislation and tax law of the United States, respectively. Contributors originating from more than ten various departments belonging to a range of industrial organizations and representatives of those departments were instrumental in facilitating the publication of these pieces.

The act of producing transferable receipt tokens on blockchains that use a proof-of-stake consensus mechanism as their method for obtaining network consensus is referred to as liquid staking. Liquid staking is also known as proof-of-stake consensus. In the context of cryptocurrencies, this activity is referred to as “staking.” The statement that inspired the term “liquid staking” also gives its name to the practice, which is referred to as “liquid staking.” In order to establish ownership of cryptographic assets that have been staked or prizes that have been received for the purpose of staking, these tokens are put into circulation and employed in the process of establishing ownership of those assets. Staking the tokens itself is one method for accomplishing this goal. The POSA is opposed to the description of “liquid staking derivatives” because, according to their argument, it paints a false picture of the qualities that are associated with the tokens. The POSA stated that the tokens should now be referred to as “liquid staking tokens,” and they advocated for this change as a direct result of the event that took place. Since the Ethereum Merge took place, there has been a perceptible increase in the number of people who are contemplating taking part in liquid staking. This boost in interest comes as a direct result of the Ethereum Merge.


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Tim Beiko announced Shapella upgrade

Tim Beiko, a key developer for Ethereum, has revealed that the next planned update for Shapella would take place on February 28. When epoch 56832 arrives, the Shapella network update will become operational on the Sepolia network.

The names Shanghai and Capella (Shapella) are now being considered for the forthcoming Ethereum hard split. On the execution layer client side, the fork is referred to by the name Shanghai, whereas on the consensus layer client side, the upgrade is referred to by the name Capella.

On the execution layer, some major Ethereum improvement proposal (EIP) enhancements include push withdrawals on the Beacon Chain and warm coinbase. Warm coinbase should not be confused with the cryptocurrency exchange. By using a new “system-level” operation type, the push withdrawals will make it possible for validators to withdraw funds from the Beacon Chain and send them to the Ethereum Virtual Machine. Warm Coinbase, on the other hand, has the potential to be a game-changer by lowering the network costs that builders must pay.

The piece of software known as Coinbase is what builders on the network use to be credited with newly issued coins. Each and every new transaction on the network is required to have many interactions with the Coinbase program. Because the program takes more time to “warm up,” the charge for the first engagement is higher than the fee for subsequent interactions, which decrease as the number of contacts increases. However, with the implementation of EIP-3651, the coinbase software will stay warm from the start, and users will be required to pay a lesser gas charge in order to access it.

The initial unique historical roots have been replaced by complete and partial withdrawals for validators, as well as independent state and block historical accumulators. These are some of the major modifications that have been made to the consensus layer.

The ability to make a partial withdrawal enables validators to continue verifying transactions while withdrawing ether (ETH) rewards in amounts greater than 32 ether. Validators have the option to entirely abandon the system, collect all 32 Ether and awards, and call it quits if they wish to make a full withdrawal.

The next update will provide validators the ability to transfer their staked Ether (stETH) from the Beacon Chain to the execution layer so that they may spend it. In addition, the update would bring about modifications to the execution and consensus layers, as well as the addition of new functionality; hence, it would be an essential upgrade after the Merge.

In order to take advantage of the Sepolia update, however, stakers and non-stakers who run nodes are need to bring their nodes up to date with the most current versions of the Ethereum client. The next phase would be the release of the Shanghai upgrade on the Ethereum Goerli test network, which is anticipated to begin in the month of March. This would be the following step after the deployment of the Sepolia upgrade.


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The amount of ETH burned will continue to increase as transaction fees are burned

Since the completion of the Merge network upgrade six months ago, the quantity of ether (ETH), the second-largest cryptocurrency in terms of market value, has been steadily decreasing across exchanges. In September 2022, the Ethereum network went through a significant upgrade that consisted of switching from a proof-of-work (PoW) network to a proof-of-stake (PoS) network during an event that was referred to as the Merge.

The quantity of accessible ETH that is now languishing on exchanges continues to decrease, as shown by on-chain data that was published by the cryptocurrency analytics company Santiment. Since the Merge, the amount of ETH available on exchanges has decreased by 37%. It is a positive indicator when there is a consistent decrease in supply on exchanges. This is because there is less ETH accessible on the market for buying and selling.

Before the Merge, there were a total of 19.12 million ETH worth $31.3 billion trading hands on exchanges in the month of September. As of the second week of February, the number had dropped to 13.36 million ETH, which corresponds to a value of $19.7 billion.

A significant portion of the Ethereum supply is now being shifted into self-custody, while the Shanghai upgrade is drawing near and many traders choose staking as an investment strategy instead. The next version for Ethereum, known as Shanghai, is expected to release in the month of March. Stakeholders and validators will be able to remove their holdings from the Beacon Chain after the Shanghai hard fork, which will combine more upgrade suggestions for network advancements and enable for this functionality.

At the now, 14% of the entire supply, or 16 million ETH, is staked on the Beacon Chain. This amounts to nearly $25 billion at the prices that are currently in effect, and it is a significant quantity that will gradually become liquid following the Shanghai hard fork.

Since it became deflationary after the London upgrade, the total quantity of ETH on the market as a whole has also decreased, in addition to the ongoing decrease in the amount of ETH stored on exchanges. The fee-burning mechanism that was first implemented as part of Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP)-1559 is where the deflationary model can be found.

Since the London upgrade in August 2021, a total of 2.9 million ETH has been burnt, which would have had an equivalent value of around $4.5 billion in today’s currency.


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Gemini Launches Crypto Staking Service in US, Singapore, Hong Kong

Gemini, a major cryptocurrency exchange headquartered in New York, announced on Thursday that it launched a staking program called “Gemini Staking”, which allows customers to lock up their assets within their accounts and earn rewards or interest.

The program enables investors to seamlessly stake any crypto amount without fees and receive staking rewards in their Gemini account.

Gemini said customers can begin staking MATIC on the Polygon network, with plans to support Ethereum (ETH), Solana (SOL), Polkadot (DOT), and Audius (AUDIO) will take place next month after the Merge goes live.

Layla Amjadi, Vice President of Product at Gemini, said that customers’ interest influenced by the Merge was the key to the company’s move to launch its staking services.

Amjadi stated: “It’s now clearer than ever that people are interested in staking, especially now that we’re on the cusp of the Ethereum Merge. With Ethereum being a staking option for them on Gemini soon and after the Merge, and with there being more liquidity and higher yields, staking is becoming more and more appealing for people.”

In a statement, Gemini explained: “Staking is central to Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanisms, whereby users pledge crypto to validate transactions on a blockchain network securely. Once validated, users who have staked their crypto receive tokens as a reward.”

Gemini said the staking service is available to users across the United States (excluding New York, where local laws prohibit staking), Singapore, and Hong Kong.

The firm said the staking program protects customers’ staked assets by reimbursing them for penalties imposed by malicious validators on their staked tokens. Gemini will cover any expenses associated with the staking and de-staking processes.

Earning Interest in Crypto on The Rise

Gemini said staking is the second yield-generating product it has launched after its Gemini Earn. In February last year, the exchange launched “Gemini Earn”, an interest-earning program that enables customers to up to a 7.4% annual percentage yield (APY) on cryptocurrencies.

 Although both Staking and Earn allow clients to earn a yield on their crypto, there are important differences in how such yields are generated.

Gemini’s staking launch comes as other crypto firms are establishing their offerings to create opportunities for retail and institutional customers to collect staking rewards.

Early this month, Coinbase introduced an Ethereum staking service targeting institutional clients in the US.

In June, Binance.US launched its staking service to outperform other exchanges in the U.S. like Gemini, Kraken, BlockFi, and Coinbase.

Binance.US’ staking program promises yields of up to 18% Annual Percentage Yield (APY) and allows users to lock in digital assets to support Proof-of-Stake (PoS) blockchains, which include Livepeer (LPT), the Graph (GRT), Solana (SOL), Cosmos (ATOM), Audius (AUDIO), BNB Chain (BNB), and Avalanche (AVAX).

In June, Bitstamp launched a staking offering for its US retail and institutional clients as investors seek out alternatives amid low yields and inflation.

Image source: Shutterstock


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Ethereum Founder Vitalik Buterin Speculates the Merge Will Happen on September 15

Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum’s co-founder, has hinted that the much-anticipated merge might occur around September 15.


The transition from a proof-of-work (PoW) to a proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus mechanism called the merge is speculated to be the biggest software upgrade in the Ethereum ecosystem. Nevertheless, it has been quite elusive since it was launched in December 2020. 


Despite these revelations by Buterin, ETH developers are anticipated to come up with a conclusive date next week, given that the final test called Goerli was finalized earlier this week.


A recent developers’ call had suggested September 19 as the most probable date for the merge.


Once the merge rolls out, the PoS algorithm will enable the confirmation of blocks in a more cost-efficient and environmentally friendly way because validators will stake Ether instead of solving a cryptographic puzzle. 


Meanwhile, American multinational investment bank Citigroup or Citi recently disclosed that transitioning to a PoS consensus mechanism would make Ethereum a deflationary asset.


As a result, the second-largest cryptocurrency would become a “yield-bearing asset.”


Citi also pointed out that the merge would slash the overall Ether issuance by 4.2% annually, making it deflationary. Therefore, shifting to a PoS consensus mechanism would enhance Ethereum’s quest to become a store of value. 


Therefore, as a “yield-bearing asset,” Citi added that ETH would experience more cash flows. As a result, prompting more valuation methods that were not available before. 


On the other hand, Buterin recently acknowledged that MakerDAO’s consideration to depeg its native token DAI from stablecoin USD Coin (USDC) was a risky and terrible idea, Blockchain.News reported. 


This decision might have been reached based on tornado sanctions because MakerDAO intends to replace USDC as collateral with Ethereum.

Image source: Shutterstock


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ssv.network Raises $10M to Boost Ethereum Staking Infrastructure

Key Takeaways

  • ssv.network has raised $10 million from Digital Currency Group, Coinbase, and other investors.
  • ssv.network is a decentralized staking protocol for running nodes on Ethereum’s consensus layer.
  • Ethereum is expected to complete its merge to Proof-of-Stake this year.

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ssv.network, a decentralized staking protocol for Ethereum’s consensus layer, has raised $10 million to expand its platform.

ssv.network Aims to Simplify Ethereum Staking

ssv.network has raised $10 million to improve its offering.

In a press release, the project’s team said that venture capital funds and partner firms collectively contributed $10 million to its treasury, which is overseen by ssv.network’s decentralized autonomous organization. The contributors include Digital Currency Group, Coinbase, Lukka, and OKX, among others.

ssv.network core contributor Eran Efrima told Crypto Briefing that the $10 million would be sued “to fund initiatives, collaborations, and future grants for developers and participants.”

ssv.network aims to simplify the process of staking and running validator nodes on Ethereum’s consensus layer, which was previously known as ETH 2.0. The project launched after receiving a grant from the Ethereum Foundation last year. It’s currently in a testnet phase.

Ethereum plans to switch from Proof-of-Work consensus to a Proof-of-Stake mechanism in an event that’s been dubbed “the merge.” It’s expected to complete the update sometime in 2022. After that point, miners will no longer validate transactions. Instead, users who stake a minimum of 32 ETH to run a validator node will validate transactions and earn rewards for their service.

However, staking and setting a validator node can be technically complex for many users. The 32 ETH deposit requirement is also a high barrier to entry given ETH’s market price. In response, several staking services for Ethereum’s Beacon Chain have emerged, but many of them face problems related to the storage and control of validator keys.

Some of today’s most popular Ethereum staking services require ETH holders to give up control of their assets, which means that they compromise on decentralization. While non-custodial validator node solutions are also available, they are often difficult for newer users to understand and must often have regular upgrades.

ssv.network says it has addressed the common issues associated with staking infrastructure by offering a decentralized service that can also maintain high performance. The network leverages research developed in-house on the Secret Shared Validators protocol, which shares operation and key management for Ethereum validators. The team says that users can stake their ETH in SSV validator nodes without compromising either security or worrying about the node’s performance.

ssv.network uses a network of “operators” who maintain trustless management of Ethereum validator nodes. Many crypto firms that provide staking services have joined ssv.network as operators. For participating in the network, they can earn rewards in the form of SSV, the protocol’s governance and staking token.

Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author of this piece owned ETH and several other cryptocurrencies. 

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No precedent: IRS court settlement doesn’t clarify crypto staking taxes

In May 2021, a Nashville couple known as the Jarretts filed a lawsuit against the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) over taxes they had paid on unclaimed and unsold Tezos (XTZ) staking rewards. At the beginning of February, news broke that the lawsuit filed by the Jarretts had come to an end, resulting in the IRS issuing the couple a tax refund for $3,793. 

Confusion among crypto holders

Not long after this news made headlines, confusion among the crypto community piqued. One crypto media publication sent a tweet from its official account on Feb. 2, 2022, saying, “BREAKING: IRS will not tax unsold staked crypto as income.” The tweet generated over 4,000 retweets and over 18,000 likes, as Crypto Twitter rejoiced over the assumed notion that the IRS would not tax unsold staked crypto.

More confusion resulted as mainstream media outlets proceeded to publish articles implying that the IRS would not tax passive income from staked crypto. For example, a recent Forbes article published by a senior contributor stated:

“This is a huge win for crypto holders in the U.S. In light of this new information, even without this formal court ruling, some taxpayers might decide to follow a bit aggressive approach and not report staking income at the time of receipt.”

Clearing the air: A ruling was never made

Seth Wilks, head of government relations and SME at TaxBit — a platform specializing in cryptocurrency taxation — told Cointelegraph that a slew of misinformation was spread and false conclusions being made regarding the lawsuit:

“In the eyes of the IRS, nothing has changed. Their position on staking income is the same as it has been for the last several years. This case was really more about a legal procedure than anything else. There was no court ruling that another taxpayer could point to as precedent. Settling this case was the only thing in contention here.”

Wilks said that a court ruling is still to be made, as the IRS has only settled the dispute by paying the couple a refund. He added that assuming the plaintiffs don’t come up with an unexpected legal argument to keep the case moving forward, the likely outcome would be for the judge to fully dismiss the case. “From a legal standpoint, I envision the Department of Justice — which is the law firm for the IRS in these matters — will file a motion with the court to have the case dismissed, citing mootness, meaning it’s no longer applicable since a refund was issued.”

On the other hand, Wilks pointed out that the Jarretts may continue to push the case forward, noting that the couple is working with a team of savvy lawyers while also receiving support from the Proof of Stake Alliance (POSA), which is an industry advocacy group. Given this, the Jarrett’s recently released a statement indicating their goal to have the IRS clarify its position on taxing staking and block rewards “for both proof-of-stake and proof-of-work” systems. 

This is important since no clear guidance currently exists for taxing unclaimed staking rewards. As of now, the IRS only asks taxpayers whether they have “received, sold, exchanged or otherwise disposed of any financial interest in any virtual currency.”

Alison Smith Mangiero, a member of the POSA board of directors and president and founder of Tocqueville Group — an asset management firm — told Cointelegraph that the Jarretts’ case may represent the first legal opinion to be written on the subject of taxation of crypto staking rewards. 

“This is huge, as POSA has been working on this issue since we started almost three years ago,” she remarked. According to Mangiero, many taxpayers are in similar positions as the Jarretts. Therefore, she thinks it’s crucial for legal arguments to be made around this issue. “This is an argument backed by over 100 years of tax law, and it’s important for people to understand this is a viable position,” she said.

Mangiero added that the POSA worked with law professor Abraham Sutherland in 2019 to initially make the argument around taxation for block rewards. As a result, a detailed report was published by Sutherland in the SSRN, formerly known as Social Science Research Network. The report’s abstract notes that Sutherland “concludes that for both proof-of-work and proof-of-stake cryptocurrencies, the best approach is to tax reward tokens only when they are sold or exchanged.”

With this in mind, Mangiero remarked that the IRS does not determine what is taxable income, but rather its job is to enforce the tax code. She further noted that Sutherland is a legal advisor for the POSA, who also serves as a counsel in the Jarretts’ case.

Next steps: Clarification on staking

Even if the case does progress, Wilks said that the IRS must still issue clear guidance around the definition of staking before an official court ruling can be made. As of now, there is no specific IRS guidance on the definition of staking, resulting in added confusion. Wilks said:

“The IRS needs guidance on delegating staking rewards and staking on DeFi [decentralized finance] networks, for example. I’m guessing they are trying to sort this out now, which is why it’s also inaccurate to say that the IRS has just given up on the matter entirely.”

As such, Wilks believes crypto staking rewards and taxation will remain a crucial issue for the IRS, noting that advocacy groups like the POSA will keep pushing for clarity. Indeed, Mangiero noted that the POSA has been working on educating Congress around the issue of how staking rewards should be treated. She explained that the POSA worked with leaders from the Congressional Blockchain Caucus to help write a letter to the IRS in 2020 on issuing formal guidance detailing why staking rewards should be treated as created property. She added:

“We will continue to fire away on all fronts. In terms of defining staking, we are focused narrowly on people participating in securing PoS [proof-of-stake] blockchains and being rewarded for creating those tokens. That is what the focus is for The Jarretts’ case, and this is where we are trying to focus first since it’s one of the least complicated staking situations.”

While educational initiatives from the POSA may help with clarity on the topic, Wilks pointed out that the IRS guidance on mining could also potentially support tax implications for staking activities. He mentioned that this may be likely due to the similarities the IRS perceives between staking crypto rewards and mining.

“It is very unlikely that the IRS would make a policy change on staking without taking into consideration mining,” said Wilks. Although it’s difficult to predict what such a policy would entail, Wilks


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