The validator networks that secure proof-of-stake blockchains must balance decentralization with efficiency. With too many validators, blockchain networks risk becoming slow and cumbersome. However, having too few validators poses a threat to their decentralization.
In a bid to boost its validator count, Fantom recently reduced the minimum staking requirement for validators from 500,000 FTM to 50,000 FTM. The reduced threshold will lower the barrier to entry for network participants. But how will it affect Fantom’s security?
Seeking to reassure users that lower staking requirements won’t affect the platform’s security, the Fantom Foundation pointed out that, although the threshold for running a validator has been lowered, influence within the network is still proportional to the amount of staked FTM.
To stage a 51% attack on Fantom, malicious actors would need to gain control of more than half of the total staked FTM (currently 530 million). This is regardless of how many validators they use to do so.
Generally speaking, having fewer validators reduces latency and smaller networks are generally more nimble and efficient than large ones.
However, the Foundation said that, as long as they are running high-quality hardware, “we don’t believe more validators will slow down Fantom,” and it expects to maintain a 1–2 second time to finality.
So long as new validators are running on quality hardware, the network will be more secure and won’t see any downgrade in performance as it maintains the one to two second time to finality.
With just 55 active validators at the time of writing, Fantom is unlikely to encounter latency issues any time soon. Ethereum (ETH), on the other hand, is facing the prospect of too many validators.
Last year, experiments with Ethereum’s Holesky testnet discovered that when the validator count was increased to 2.1 million, the network was unable to finalize transactions. This suggests that Ethereum’s proof-of-stake network, which currently consists of nearly a million active validators, may eventually need to restrict growth.