What is Ether.FI
Ether.fi is a decentralized staking platform that allows users to earn rewards by delegating their staking to node operators.
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Ether.FI detailed information on staking!

What is Ether.FI?

Ether.fi is a decentralized staking platform that allows users to earn rewards by delegating their staking to node operators. What makes it stand out is that it's the only liquid staking platform where users retain control of their keys while still benefiting from staking rewards. Users can deposit various assets like ETH, wstETH, rETH, cbETH, and sfrxETH into their Early Adopter Programme and earn rewards. The project has taken security seriously, with its smart contracts undergoing audits from respected blockchain security firms CertiK and Zellic. Additionally, they've established a bug bounty program to encourage security researchers to discover any vulnerabilities in their smart contracts.

What about funding?

Ether.fi has successfully concluded a funding round, raising $5.3 million, with notable investors North Island Ventures (NIV) and Chapter One taking the lead. The funds will be allocated towards expanding the team by bringing in additional engineers and exploring new partnership opportunities. This is in addition to their existing partnerships with node operators like Kiln and Finoa.

What distinguishes ether.fi?

Ether.fi stands out for two primary reasons:

  1. Stakers on Ether.fi have the unique advantage of creating and managing their own staked ETH keys. In contrast to most other delegated staking protocols where users deposit their ETH and rely on a node operator to handle staking credentials (potentially introducing custodial risks), Ether.fi empowers stakers to maintain control of their keys while still delegating the staking process. This significantly minimizes their exposure to risks.

  2. Ether.fi employs a mechanism where an NFT (Non-Fungible Token) is generated for each validator launched through the platform. These NFTs are crucial as they represent ownership of the 32 ETH that is staked and also store important metadata about the validator, including details about its client, location, node operator, and any associated node services. These NFTs play a vital role in creating a programmable layer on top of the staking infrastructure and can be further enhanced through integration with EigenLayer in the future.     

To put it succinctly, Ether.fi's distinguishing features include staker-controlled keys, reducing risk exposure, and the use of NFTs to represent validators and enable programmability within the staking ecosystem.

Summarized Overview of Operations:

Ether.fi involves various participants, including:

  • Stakers who hold both bonds and stakes.

  • Stakers who exclusively possess eETH, the Liquid Staking Derivative on ether.fi.

  • Node operators.

  • Users of node services.

The project follows a roadmap consisting of three main phases:

  • Delegated staking.

  • Liquidity pool management.

  • Node services implementation.

Throughout these phases, the roles mentioned above undergo progressive transformations, briefly outlined as follows.

Delegated Staking β€” Phase 1

For stakers looking to hold a bond and stake in multiples of 32 ETH, the following workflow is employed:

  1. Node operators have the option to submit a bid to become eligible for the assignment of a validator node. Trusted node operators can make a nominal bid for recognition, while trustless node operators engage in an auction process to secure validator assignments based on their winning bids.

  2. Stakers deposit their 32 ETH into the ether.fi deposit contract, triggering the auction process. This action also designates a node operator to operate the validator. Additionally, it results in the creation of a withdrawal safe and two NFTs (T-NFT and B-NFT) that grant ownership of the withdrawal safe. The T-NFT represents 30 ETH and can be transferred, while the B-NFT represents 2 ETH and is non-transferable. To recover the 2 ETH tied to the B-NFT, the validator must be exited or fully withdrawn.

  3. The staker encrypts the validator key using the public key of the winning node operator and submits it as an on-chain transaction. This transaction generates an event that the node operator monitors. Future iterations will replace this step with a sharded key DVT (Decentralized Validation Technology) solution.

  4. The node operator proceeds to launch the validator using the decrypted validator key.

  5. The staker (or node operator) can initiate the exit command to exit the validator and retrieve the staked ETH into the withdrawal safe. Subsequently, the NFTs can be burned to recover the ETH, accounting for fees.

The B-NFT serves as a contribution to the slashing insurance deductible (in the event of a slashing incident) and signifies the responsibility to oversee the validator node's performance. It offers a higher yield (about 50% more) compared to the T-NFT due to the added risk and obligations. ether.fi simplifies validator performance monitoring through notifications and alerts.     In summary, this workflow outlines the steps for stakers who want to both hold a bond and stake in multiples of 32 ETH, ensuring the security and operation of the validator nodes.

Liquidity Pool and eETH β€” Phase 2

Stakers who have less than 32 ETH or prefer not to take on the responsibility of monitoring validator nodes can participate in ether.fi staking by generating eETH tokens through the NFT liquidity pool. The liquidity pool contract contains a mix of assets, including ETH and T-NFTs as previously described. The proportion of ETH in the pool remains relatively small compared to other assets.

Creating and Redeeming eETH:

  • When a staker deposits ETH into the pool, the pool mints eETH tokens and transfers them to the depositor.

  • Stakers holding T-NFTs can deposit them into the liquidity pool, generating eETH tokens equivalent in value to their T-NFTs, determined through an oracle.

  • Stakers with eETH have the option to exchange it for ETH in the liquidity pool at a 1:1 ratio, provided there is sufficient liquidity. Insufficient liquidity triggers the initiation of a validator exit.

Bond-Holders and the Minting of New T-NFTs and B-NFTs:

  • Stakers interested in staking with B-NFTs, which offer higher yields, deposit their ETH into the pool and join a queue to receive a B-NFT. These stakers, known as bond-holders, assume a role similar to full-node stakers who have sold their T-NFTs.

  • When the amount of ETH in the liquidity pool surpasses a certain threshold, the next bond-holder in the queue is allocated. They generate private keys and initiate the staking process, where 32 ETH are staked, resulting in the creation of two NFTs: a T-NFT added to the pool and a B-NFT awarded to the bond-holder.

Exiting Validators:

  • If the amount of ETH in the liquidity pool falls below a specified threshold, an exit request is triggered for the oldest T-NFT. This request emits an event that the corresponding bond-holder must monitor (ether.fi offers a notification service for bond-holders to facilitate this).

  • This exit request records a timestamp and initiates a timer. If the timer expires without the validator being exited, the B-NFT holder faces gradual slashing. As an incentive for node operators to exit the validator in case the bond-holder cannot or will not do so, they receive a reward upon the validator's exit.

  • Upon the validator's exit, both the T-NFT and B-NFT are burned, and the ETH (after deducting fees) is deposited back into the liquidity pool.

Liquidation and Slashing:

In cases where the amount of ETH in the liquidity pool is insufficient to cover potential exits or slashing, liquidation may occur. Liquidation involves converting T-NFTs to ETH to meet the demands of exiting validators or fulfilling slashing insurance.

Governance and Bond-Holder Responsibilities:

  • Ether.fi's governance structure likely involves bond-holders playing a significant role, given their importance in the ecosystem. They may participate in decision-making processes, potentially influencing protocol upgrades and parameter adjustments.

  • Bond-holders, particularly those with B-NFTs, have the responsibility of monitoring validator performance to safeguard against slashing events. This monitoring can be facilitated through ether.fi's notification services.

Overall, ether.fi's mechanism provides flexibility for stakers with varying amounts of ETH and risk tolerance. Stakers can choose between staking directly with validators or participating in the liquidity pool, with corresponding roles, responsibilities, and rewards. Additionally, the protocol's design incorporates measures to ensure the security and efficiency of the staking process, including mechanisms for liquidation and slashing insurance.

All so interesting, but now on to the potential Airdrop from Ether.Fi!

As part of the ether.fi Early Adopter Programme, users who have staked ETH on the platform have the opportunity to accumulate bonus points, which could potentially lead to receiving an airdrop when the platform's token is officially launched. The snapshot for this program will be taken in mid-April, and here's a step-by-step guide on how to participate:

  1. Connect Your Wallet to ether.fi:

  • Connect your MetaMask or other supported wallets to the ether.fi mainnet.

  • Ensure that you are on the "Early Adopter" page, indicated at the top-middle of the screen.

  1. Stake ETH or ETH-Pegged Assets:

  • You can stake various assets, including ETH, rETH, cbETH, wstETH, or sfrxETH, in the Early Adopter Pool to earn loyalty points.

  • The minimum deposit amount must be at least 0.1.

  • Once the ether.fi platform is fully launched, you will have the option to transfer your deposit to EtherFi staking.

Increased Staking Rewards:

Your staking rewards will receive a boost if you choose to stake with them and have accumulated loyalty points.

There is also the possibility of receiving an additional airdrop.

Important Note:

It's important to note that your loyalty points will reset after each deposit.

You have the flexibility to withdraw your stake at any time without incurring penalties, but keep in mind that doing so will result in the loss of your accumulated bonus points.

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