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Comparing Crypto Mining vs Staking

By Brian Nibley · September 20, 2022 · 4 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

Comparing Crypto Mining vs Staking

Crypto mining and staking are two different ways for a blockchain network to achieve consensus. They use different means to achieve a similar end. While mining uses an algorithm called proof-of-work (PoW), staking uses an algorithm called proof-of-stake (PoS).

Crypto mining and crypto staking are also ways for individuals to participate in a crypto network’s consensus. Staking involves locking up tokens for a fixed period, while mining requires running specialized hardware.

Here, we’ll define mining vs. staking, discuss the basics of each consensus method, and look at some of staking and mining’s positive and negative attributes.

Crypto Staking vs Mining: Similarities and Differences

There are both similarities and differences between crypto staking and mining. Let’s take a deeper look at both.

Similarities

Both staking and mining provide a way for a network’s nodes to agree on which transactions are valid. In both cases, miners or validators have a chance to win the next block reward of newly minted coins. Users can also participate in a network’s consensus through either mining or staking.

Differences

While mining uses special hardware to solve complex computational problems, staking locks up crypto for a fixed period. PoW is energy intensive, whereas PoS requires less energy. PoW relies on a high hash rate to secure a network, whereas PoS relies on a large amount of tokens (money) — a high level of market capitalization.

Crypto Mining vs Staking Similarities

Crypto Mining vs Staking Differences

Achieves consensus for a blockchain PoW requires hardware; PoS requires crypto
Gives participants a chance to earn newly minted coins PoW uses a lot of energy; PoS uses much less energy
Allows users to participate in the consensus process PoW relies on hash rate for security; PoS on market cap

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Minable Coin Examples

Proof-of-work coins offer miners newly minted tokens as a reward for helping to solve the computational problems involved in processing a block of transactions. Some popular PoW cryptocurrencies include:

•   Bitcoin (BTC)

•   Bitcoin Cash (BCH)

•   Litecoin (LTC)

•   Dogecoin (DOGE)

•   Monero (XMR)

•   Zcash (ZEC)

Note that different PoW coins can use different mining algorithms. While Bitcoin uses SHA-256, Litecoin and Dogecoin use Scrypt, for example. Moreover, to mine a specific coin, the hardware — be it ASICs or GPUs — must be compatible with the type of algorithm used to mine that coin.

Stakeable Coin Examples

The native tokens of PoS blockchains let users lock up their tokens on the platform in exchange for a reward of newly minted tokens. Some popular PoS cryptocurrencies include:

•   Solana (SOL)

•   Cosmos (ATOM)

•   Cronos (CRO)

•   Cardano (ADA)

•   Avalanche (AVAX)

•   Polkadot (DOT)

Becoming a validator often requires a large sum of tokens, along with keeping a computer up and running constantly. Validators can receive a penalty for not having 24/7 uptime, and starting your own validator node can come with a hefty price tag.

Deciding Which Mining Method Is Best for You

Making a decision about crypto staking vs. mining comes down to a few important things. Those interested in participating in the mining or staking process might want to ask themselves questions like:

•   How much time and money do I want to devote?

•   What is my level of technical expertise with crypto and computers?

•   Which network do I want to support?

•   Do I want to become my own miner/validator, or have someone else do the heavy lifting?

Those with technical knowledge who want to handle things themselves could consider mining an appealing option. Or, those looking to invest less time and money might simply choose to stake some tokens on an exchange. The potential profit you can fetch from staking vs. mining varies according to how much an individual is willing to invest upfront, as well as the market price of the token involved.

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FAQ

Is crypto staking more profitable than crypto mining?

The potential profit of crypto staking vs. mining profit depends on a few things. Staking could be more profitable for the average user because the only thing required is money. Mining requires special hardware, access to cheap electricity, and some technical knowledge.

The value of the coin in question is also important. Users could mine a lot of coins or have a lot of coins staked, but if the coin’s value falls against their local fiat currency, they could still realize losses.

Then there are the barriers to entry. Many exchanges allow users to stake any amount of proof-of-stake (PoS) tokens and earn a small yield. Mining, on the other hand, requires buying the necessary hardware and learning how to use it.

Is staking the same thing as cloud mining?

No. Staking involves locking up tokens on a PoS platform in exchange for a share of the network’s next block reward. Cloud mining involves purchasing a contract from a company that handles the proof-of-work (PoW) mining on behalf of a user and pays them a share of the mining rewards. These two things might look similar based on the fact that in both cases, users simply put up a certain sum of money and earn income over time. But, on the backend, they are two entirely different processes.

What are the advantages of mining vs buying cryptocurrency?

Mining cryptocurrency helps support a given cryptocurrency’s platform, provides miners with more anonymous coins, and could be profitable if the coin’s price rises in the future. Because mined coins aren’t purchased on an exchange, they could be held more anonymously than usual.

Every PoW network needs miners to survive, so being involved in mining aids the network of a miner’s choice. And if done at the correct time, mining coins while they are cheap and the difficulty is low could be profitable if miners hold onto their coins and prices rise. Electricity and hardware costs still must be taken into account, however.


Photo credit: iStock/nortonrsx

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