Sharded blockchain Polkadot recently set tongues wagging after confirming the next batch of parachain auctions on its experimental network Kusama. But as the crypto community waits with bated breath for candidates to announce themselves, it’s worth remembering that Polkadot is already alive and kicking in its own right.
Founded by Ethereum O.G. Dr Gavin Wood, Polkadot has long been touted as a viable rival to the world’s best-known smart contract network, a consequence of its sophisticated infrastructure, thriving developer community, and promise of true interoperability between applications running on separate chains.
Already a top 10 cryptocurrency by market cap (DOT), the platform has been five years in the making and ultimately aims to support a global network of interoperable parachains and parathreads seamlessly communicating with each other. In the near future, deploying on Polkadot could be a no-brainer for savvy developers – both from a cost and performance perspective.
But that’s all for the future. In the here and now, the flourishing Polkadot ecosystem is such that users can take advantage of various opportunities whether their interest lies in trading, gaming, building, privacy or IoT. Here are three ways to leverage the Polkadot blockchain right now.
Stake DOT to Earn Yield
Because Polkadot uses a Nominated Proof-of-Stake (NPoS) algorithm, staking is integral to the security of the network. In direct staking, you can either be a nominator, tasked with nominating validator candidates whom you trust to help you earn DOT rewards, or a validator, validating proofs from collators and participating in consensus with other validators.
In the case of nominating directly on Polkadot, a minimum of 80 DOT tokens is required – just over $2,000 worth at today’s prices. However, because there is a maximum of 22,500 nominators, having sufficient DOT tokens doesn’t actually guarantee you a staking berth.
Setting up a validator node on Polkadot is a little more complex as it requires significant system administration experience. What’s more, the minimum stake needed to be elected as an active validator is dynamic and varies over time. The average returns Polkadot validators can expect are in the range of 10%.
If you find the idea of direct staking a little daunting, there are alternative services that allow you to participate. Binance, for example, lets you use DOT for high-yield farming of new tokens on its Lauchpool; users are also free to stake DOT in Binance Locked Staking to earn up to 31.49%.
Kraken is another top-tier cryptocurrency exchange that rolled out support for Polkadot staking last year, with yearly rewards of 12%.
Use Dot.Finance’s DeFi Suite
Another great way to maximize your DOT yields is to leverage DOT.Finance, a dedicated DeFi aggregator for the entire Polkadot ecosystem. Rather than simply staking DOT to earn a set percentage, DOT.Finance helps users generate a better rate of return by employing innovative yield optimization strategies across a swathe of DeFi dApps.
The cool thing about DOT.Finance is that its smart contracts automatically compound your staking returns at the optimal frequency to increase APY. In the words of the team, “it’s like farming with a tractor instead of pulling a yoke on your shoulders.”
And it’ll soon get even better: in the near future, DOT.Finance will allow users to hold Polkadot Index tokens, enabling them to gain exposure to a variety of Polkadot-based assets.
Fly to the Moon(beam)
The upcoming Moonbeam launch on Polkadot presents yet another opportunity to earn. Moonbeam, for the uninitiated, is a brand-new Ethereum-compatible smart contract platform that simplifies the process of building natively interoperable decentralized applications.
Moonbeam’s Take Flight token event gets underway on September 7 and aims to thank the Moonbeam community for its continued support by dispensing 80 million Glimmer (GLMR) tokens during three rounds, all of which require a whitelist to participate (register here).
While the early access round is specifically geared towards key project supporters (Moonriver crowdloan participants, PolkaPet holders, etc), the second is much more open: if you’re a member of the Telegram channel or Discord server, you’re pretty much good to go.
One nifty condition of Take Flight is the low contribution threshold, meaning everyday investors get the same opportunity to earn as major bag-holders. The three staggered rounds should also ensure a wide cross-section of participants, all of whom will have a stake in the Moonbeam Network’s success.
Well, there you have it: three solid options for those looking to leverage Polkadot before a single parachain has launched. You’re welcome.