I find it frustrating to see all this debate about how much a stake pool operator should earn because I don’t think this is the main problem regarding some of the long term threats.
The fact of the matter is that it is really easy, and cheap, to run a stake pool in terms of the hardware and software. And this is only likely to get cheaper and easier. The difficulty is in obtaining enough staked capital to guarantee regular block production.
I think in the long term anyone with a significant investment in Cardano whether they are a bank, DEX, custodial entity, dapp deployer, investor, derivative trader, or whatever, will want to have some control over their access. The real world costs to run a stake pool are so minimal, and the control advantages - assurances are high enough that they will want to run their own node.
If you are already running a full node in order to satisfy your “inclusive accountability” concerns then why not issue the 500 Ada deposit and create the stake pool certificate yourself. That is almost all you need to do. If you already have the computer and internet connection, it won’t cost you anything extra. Then, since you are the stake pool operator, you are not paying a percentage of rewards to someone else, AND you are contributing to increased decentralisation.
I think every entity in control of enough Ada will eventually run their own stake pool. I think the only reason we see this bickering over fees is because we are early and the big professionals have not arrived yet. If Cardano fulfils its goal to become the basis of a financial operating system then the hedge fund managers, institutions, and traders, will run their own stake pools and they won’t care about the $10 per month operating cost.
I think we should focus more on dapps creating staking mechanisms in their smart contracts so that individual users get to maintain control over where their Ada is staked. Depending on the design of the dapp this may not be possible. But, for trading platforms like Axo, it may be possible for individual users to have their own particular staking key used by their own particular Axo “programmable swap” using a “franken-address”. I have watched many interviews of Jarek Hirniak about Axo and nobody has asked this question but I suspect that he might have already designed his system to produce this good result.
We should be asking developers if they are designing their smart contracts to allow users to maintain control over the staking of their own locked Ada. Otherwise, we could be building systems that will enable the big professionals to exert undue control over vast pools of Ada.
For example, it seems that all the Ada that will be locked up in the Djed contract will be controlled and staked by Coti. It might be possible to decentralise the control of this Ada some way if the community demands it.