How to Stake Polkadot (DOT)

Polkadot (DOT) staking is an excellent option for users who want to earn a passive reward/income on their long-term holdings.

Staking DOT tokens helps secure the network and allows users to earn more DOT tokens as rewards. Users can get started with staking for as little as 1 DOT. 

An Overview Of Polkadot Staking 

Staking is a process through which users can temporarily lock or stake their tokens and earn rewards in the form of interest. Unlike Proof-of-Work blockchains, Proof-of-Stake blockchains like Polkadot enable staking. Polkadot uses a variation of Proof-of-Stake called the Nominated Proof-of-Stake. Nominated Proof-of-Stake is centered around the interoperability of Polkadot’s numerous parachains, connected and secured by the Relay Chain. 

Polkadot staking is a fairly complex process, especially native DOT staking. As mentioned, DOT staking is made possible through the network’s consensus mechanism, Nominated Proof-of-Stake. Users on Polkadot can stake their DOT tokens in three ways: Native staking, third-party decentralized protocols, and centralized exchanges. 

Native DOT Staking 

Native DOT staking involves using your DOT tokens natively within the network. In this type of staking, you don’t have to rely on third-party protocols or exchanges. Instead, every step is completed within the Polkadot network. There are several options for native DOT staking, depending on the number of DOT tokens you hold, the number of tokens you want to stake, and your technical experience. 

Joining A Nomination Pool 

Joining a nomination pool is an excellent option for beginners because it does not require any management of your nomination. All you must do is join a nomination pool with other DOT holders. The pool operator is responsible for nominations, meaning all you have to do is join the nomination pool. To start with a nomination pool, you only need 1 DOT. You can claim your rewards manually or bond them to the pool to compound. 

Operating A Nomination Pool 

If you are an intermediate user, you can choose to operate a nomination pool. Pool operators can select validators by opening a nomination pool and allowing others to join by staking their DOT tokens. You need a minimum of 500 DOT tokens to bond and create a nomination pool. These DOT tokens will be deposited directly into the pool’s account. 

Direct Nomination 

Direct nomination enables the selection of validators directly. This process works differently from the simple bonding of DOT tokens and requires you to be an active participant in the Polkadot ecosystem and monitor whether your stake is backing an active validator. Direct nomination requires a minimum of 250 DOT. However, this figure is subject to change and stands at 550.290 DOT as of April 2024. 

Running A Validator 

This option is viable if you are an advanced user. Validating is a task for those with sufficient technical know-how who want to participate in block production and network security. To run a validator, you must first be selected by nominators and meet the specified criteria to be eligible. Running your own validator node requires a considerable amount of effort and community trust. 

Third-Party Decentralized Protocols 

Also called Polkadot liquid staking, third-party staking allows you to receive a token representing DOT, which can then be used in specific ecosystems to carry out designated activities. Third-party staking has several key features: 

  • Users can stake any amount for a particular fee 

  • Unbonding is flexible 

  • Users can tap into liquid markets using a third-party synthetic token. 

  • Different protocols offer various benefits. 

Centralized Exchanges 

Another way of staking DOT is via centralized exchanges. Most centralized exchanges allow users to stake their tokens on the platform. However, users must note that these platforms can censor or block wallets. Some available options for users include Coinbase, Kraken, and Binance. 

Risks Associated With Staking 

Staking DOT comes with its fair share of risks that must be taken into consideration. These risks vary depending on the type of staking system used. For example, native staking on Polkadot comes with a protocol-level risk. While Protocol is a highly established blockchain network, the risk of failure always exists. Users must also consider the risk of slashing, a mechanism used by Polkadot and Kusama to deter malicious behavior, penalizing validators that act against the interests of the network. 

When it comes to third-party staking protocol-level risk is generally higher than native staking. While the degree of risk varies between platforms, the higher the APY, the greater the risk. The assumption of trust is highest when staking DOT via centralized exchanges because third parties run them. This means the third party has complete control over activities on the platform. Exchanges can arbitrarily freeze your account or seize your DOT tokens.

Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

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