Coinbase Custody Is The Largest Validator in Tezos, Cause For Worry?

Messari data reveals that Coinbase Custody is currently the largest validator or “Baker” in the Tezos network. According to their Q2 2023 report, Coinbase Custody controls 15% of the total validator nodes and stakes XTZ, Tezos’ native currency, on behalf of its clients.

Other significant validators in the network include Everstake, PoSDog, stakefish, and Kraken, with 6%, 5%, 3%, and 3% control, respectively.

Tezos Validator Distribution
Tezos Validator Distribution| Messari

Coinbase Custody Is The Top Baker In Tezos

Notably, prominent centralized platforms and exchanges, including Coinbase Custody and Kraken, are among the top validators responsible for verifying block transactions and ensuring network security. Binance, specifically, holds 1% of the validator distribution, as reported by Messari. 

Leading cryptocurrency exchanges like Binance and Kraken operate validator nodes and have been reported to be operating staking nodes, earning rewards on behalf of delegators from proof-of-stake networks, including Tezos. While their involvement could fortify the network, there are concerns about centralization. 

Still, while Coinbase Custody currently leads with a 15% share of validator nodes, Tezos Foundation’s “Baker” nodes hold the second-largest position. It has more than twice the validator node capabilities of Everstake, contributing to a cumulative 14% of validator control. 

The Tezos Foundation, the non-profit meant to support the growth of the Tezos blockchain, operates five Bakers, each controlling around 2% of the total stake. With this double-digit stake, the Foundation greatly influences the stability, decentralization, and stability of the Tezos blockchain.

Effect Of The Crypto Winter On XTZ

The report also highlights that despite introducing the Mumbai upgrade in Tezos, new contract deployments remained flat in Q2. Developers expected Mumbai to spur network activity dapp development since the update permitted coders to launch protocols in any of the several popular programming languages. 

Tezos Building Activity Trend| Messari
Tezos Building Activity Trend | Messari

The decline in dapp deployment coincided with a reduction in new accounts and registrations, suggesting the lingering effects of the crypto winter 2022, extending to the first half of 2023. Last year, crypto asset prices, including XTZ’s, fell fanned by rapidly shifting macroeconomic factors, mainly fast-rising interest rates and a fragile economy reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

XTZ price on July 25| source: XTZUSDT on Binance, TradingView
XTZ price on July 25| Source: XTZUSDT on Binance, TradingView

Nevertheless, Tezos’ dapp activity was decent, the report shows. Messari said the network was the 13th most built in the first half of 2023.

Tezos has since released the Nairobi upgrade, aiming to enhance throughput by 8X while introducing new functionality for smart rollups and other improvements regardless of the drop in developer activity. 

Related Reading: Rain Crypto Exchange Bags Financial Services Permission In Abu Dhabi

In an increasingly green world, more platforms opt for energy-efficient consensus systems, with proof-of-work platforms being ditched for staking systems. Tezos is one of the first networks to adopt a proof-of-stake consensus algorithm. 

Ethereum has since transitioned to a staking system. Considering its first-mover advantage, it anchors an active ecosystem comprising decentralized finance (DeFi) and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) protocols.

Feature image from Canva, chart from TradingView

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