by Daniel Dob
In the last couple of months, there have been numerous reports about the declining number of bitcoin nodes. By way of a solution, 21 Inc. has proposed an interesting initiative, which is meant to maintain and encourage the currency’s current critical mass of full nodes.
Not many people are aware of them, but nodes are of extreme importance to the bitcoin system; collectively, they form the backbone that stores and relays all bitcoin transactions. A recent report has indicated that there are currently 12 percent fewer nodes right now as compared to the same time last year. The continued decline in the number of nodes will gradually make Bitcoin less stable.
21 Inc. is one of the highest-funded bitcoin companies, currently offering a number of services along with popular Bitcoin Computer that carries native hardware and true support for the Bitcoin protocol.
The firm has recently stated that: “Bitcoin full nodes help preserve the health of the bitcoin network by validating blocks and transactions, and then serving those validated transactions to lightweight clients and other full nodes … As lightweight clients currently make up a significant and growing part of the network, it’s essential that we help them maintain their high level of security – which means maintaining a critical mass of full nodes.”
As an effort to support the idea of incentivising the nodes network, 21 has partnered up with the BitNodes Project, which is a plan created by developer Addy Yeow, meant to help assess the health of the network by working towards finding all of its currently reachable nodes. The index created by Yeow crawls the entire network once every five minutes, in order to discover the number of functioning nodes. According to the latest reports, the index will now be hosted by 21 Inc. in perpetuity.
By incentivising the nodes network, those who, until now, chose to run nodes altruistically as enthusiasts, will now be rewarded for their work just like miners, who earn bitcoin for the work they put in. Based on this, the BitNodes Incentive Program will allow nodes to earn bitcoin rewards, thus encouraging those who run them to focus more on the procedure. Thus, node runners will get a weekly incentive which will start at a certain sum once they join the network, and then continue to grow on a weekly basis. We’re not yet sure if the program has started paying people out, but it currently lists only 175 nodes as eligible, out of the total of 6,000 on the network at the moment of writing.
Based on everything that has been outlined so far, BitNodes has the potential to encourage a large number of people to run nodes on their networks. As the number of nodes on the network increases, the stability of the digital currency also intensifies, which is great news for its foreseeable future.