Although my opinion is based on objective aspects, I recognize that there is a significant charge of personal subjectivity in my analysis. For this reason, I ask that it be considered as one more opinion of a member of the community, about a specific issue on Cardano.
First of all, I would like to express my satisfaction for the inclusion of this type of discussions, as I consider them fundamental to maintain a constant review of Cardano’s mission and vision. Rather than being problematic, this revitalizes the project and contributes to its continued growth.
In the following I will focus on more philosophical than technical aspects.
Cardano as a product platform
I would like to start this thread by sharing my vision of what Cardano is, as going to the basics allows us to have a common global understanding, and to work more effectively in a unique direction.
Cardano is a product platform, operating in a decentralized way - that is, without a central point making unilateral decisions or modifying pre-existing rules without prior consensus - through programmable contracts, designed to provide access to an alternative social and financial system to as many people as possible.
In other words, it’s a platform where an infinite number of independent and/or interdependent products coexist.
Of course, there are technical aspects that are essential for the platform, such as its monetary policy, its management of decentralization, its network model and associated technologies, its programmatic logic, among others. However, the above definition reflects the essence of what Cardano stands for.
Note: It is not trivial to mention that the products are independent, as being so highlights the scope of the platform to give rise to not just a finite set of structures or logics.
Having said that…
Contingent staking is a feature
The new functionality does not replace existing configurations, nor does it represent a risk to the stability or fundamentals of the system. Instead, this new functionality EXPANDS the platform and, in doing so, extends participation to different social and productive fabrics.
Main objective: DECENTRALIZATION.
Although some people have mentioned possible risks associated with this implementation, it is important to clarify that these risks would only apply if Cardano were to require KYC verification on a mandatory basis in all cases, which is completely false and highly unlikely to happen.
In this sense, the discussion should not focus on choosing between one logic or the other, but on how to support both.
Contingent staking doesn’t replace traditional staking in any way. Both worlds can coexist.
Layer 1 vs. Layer 2
In my opinion, this dilemma is the easiest to resolve, because the answer is conclusive. But I’m going to raise it with a rhetorical question. Would you accept that the consensus layer runs on a secondary layer?
Although some members support implementation on a secondary layer, I’m still looking for a convincing explanation from them. Perhaps they have hidden motivations, are trying to promote their own interests, or simply have a different understanding of Cardano. Whatever the case, the result is far from being the best option for the good of the platform.
This capability must be implemented natively.
Decentralization as a driving vector
As is well known, decentralization is a concept applicable to multiple fields of interest. There is no single way of understanding it, since it is possible to speak of decentralization of the network and infrastructure (SPOs, distribution, technology), of communities or individuals, of legislation or regulatory frameworks (since each country or region has its own social contract), among others.
Decentralization in the social-political sphere refers to the possibility that a global majority can participate in the platform under multiple rules, at all times and without exception, as long as the limits established by the platform’s base design are respected.
Personally, I have been against many decisions that have been made to the detriment of decentralization, and I consider that denying this new functionality would be one more case in that line.
Ultimately, decentralization is about allowing the free participation of a majority, not letting a minority impose their own way of understanding the world.
Cardano is a public good and, as such, should always seek to maximize the participation and inclusion of all its users.
The current discussion focuses on contingent staking, while less attention is paid to the more important issue: pool diversity. A decentralized platform is robust when it has a broad representation of regions and sectors. In addition, each pool should be representative of the local needs of the community in which it operates.
During the last few days, I have noticed a lot of hypocrisy from some SPOs that own a significant number of pools, as they oppose contingent staking on “principled” grounds, while they themselves (with lack of principles) occupy spaces that could be used by other SPOs that could better represent the needs of other communities.
It is important to note that after a possible implementation, each SPO will have the option to allow or disallow such functionality. Therefore, it is critical to support pool diversity so that Cardano can serve a wide variety of local needs.
Cardano was conceived to be globally local.
Fundamentals can coexist with other approaches
I have read many opinions on this topic, but none have answered my main question: why should Cardano design be limited to a specific ideology?
While it is true that the crypto industry emerged with a set of defined values and goals, such as privacy, pseudo-anonymity and decentralization, we should not deny the possibility of exploring other streams. It’s important to emphasize that new conceptions in no way imply violating the fundamentals, nor taking away the centrality they deserve.
In this particular case, it is a functionality that would benefit two of the most influential communities in the world: the United States and Europe. Moreover, we are not talking about improvised standards, but practices that have been applied in the traditional financial world for years and are rigorously applied by the world’s leading companies. It would be short-sighted to believe that we are above the rest to not allow the platform to support them.
Cardano wasn’t born with the mission to overthrow traditional financial structures, but to provide an alternative to them.
Contingent staking is not about regulation, but it enables it
I would like to address the issue of regulation (albeit in a skirted way), as there is a dense coating of distrust and rejection by the crypto community towards local regulations.
I know many stock investors (quite a few, I would say) and most (if not all) have recommended me to invest only 3% (or, at best, 10%) of my capital in cryptos. The reasons are diverse, but the most powerful one is the lack of regulation.
The investment world is based on predictability and trust. These intangibles become even more relevant when we talk about technology and innovation. And even more so if we include the concept of money. Therefore, we cannot expect systems like Cardano to be attractive to the traditional world if they cannot provide the minimum functionality required to generate the trust understood by them.
From the perspective of the traditional world, decentralization of a platform does not guarantee trust. Nor does it guarantee confidence that a platform does not have a single point of failure. In many cases, compliance with basic requirements established as part of a social contract is required, where such compliances will anchor an industry that seems to be buffeted by constant tsunamis.
However, this does not mean that one - as a holder, SPO or developer - must comply with regulations. No one will force anyone to do what they don’t want to do. And herein lies the power of this technology: freedom of choice. While the system may allow members to comply with local regulations, those who choose not to do so will still be covered by the platform.
Note: Neither Cardano nor the global community has the responsibility to take a stand for or against local legislative requirements. Each member decides how to use the platform, and how to respond to the laws that concern them. Cardano goes beyond personal interests and decisions.
The reality is that the portion of the population that is not subject to regulation is in the minority. If we dream that Cardano will one day be massively adopted - as is the goal of many who repeat that crutch as if it were part of a sacred hymn - we must provide the vehicles for the majority population to integrate and participate according to their own rules, and not under ours.
For some, the concept of regulation implies loss of freedoms, but for others (retail investors, companies, productive sectors, funds, States…) it means trust and clear rules of the game.
Pragmatism vs. avoidance - Strategic vision
To the fervent fighters against the established system, I call for astuteness. I understand that irrational fear is based on the powers that be imposing their logic on the whole of Cardano. However, one should never attack a giant head-on and predictably. Cardano must be the Trojan horse that enters through the front door and, from within, offer new tools for people to redefine their future. Let’s be smart. If we want our model to thrive, let’s allow it to take root organically and progressively rather than introduce it by shock force. If we have the ambition for Cardano to one day become the most widespread blockchain, we must have our feet on the ground to understand today what it will take to get there.
Let me be a bit harsh. I get the impression that many people in the community do not size up what Cardano may come to represent in the future. In perspective, Cardano is pursuing to reach at least Ethereum’s milestones, with a superior design. It aims to own a huge ecosystem that revolves around it. So, if we are not able to tolerate a functionality that a mainstream requires, for whimsical considerations that hang in the air, then I will be able to say that Cardano will be relegated to being a cult piece.
On the other hand, we are profoundly mistaken if we believe that Cardano is the only blockchain option that a regulated society can adopt. And we are completely crazy if we believe that widespread adoption can happen without first offering bridges to existing rules. Change must happen from the bottom up, rather than from the top down.
What is the community’s position: to erect a wall where the supposed “bullets of the enemies” (but also users and use cases) cannot enter, or to be the water running between the foundations of traditional structures?
The fear of the fearful will make for a weak platform. Instead, the continued quest toward broad and diverse participation will make it unstoppable.
As the crypto industry integrates into existing structures, varying degrees of maturity emerge, and it is natural for intense debates to occur in the process. The key lies in finding a balance between fundamental principles and specific needs, resulting in decentralization becoming relevant to the dynamics of the world. And in such a scenario, for Cardano to spearhead.
We need to be humble enough to accept and allow the world to be reflected in Cardano, rather than trying to impose a single world view through Cardano.