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What is a blockchain gas fee?

Summary of gas fees

Tarifa de gas es un término comúnmente usado para el costo que ciertos usuarios pagan a los validadores de red cada vez que desean realizar una función en la blockchain.

El gas sirve como incentivo para que los validadores de la red registren las transacciones con precisión y se comporten con honestidad en el mantenimiento del protocolo.

Mientras Ethereum y Polygon use el término “tarifas de gas” otras blockchains como Solana y Bitcoin usan el término “tarifas de transacción”. El concepto “Gas” proviene de la similitud de la tarifa con el combustible que mantiene un vehículo en marcha.

Las tarifas de gas a menudo son una sorpresa para los usuarios de blockchain. En los servicios sin custodia, donde las transacciones se realizan directamente en la blockchain, las tarifas del gas pueden ser muy impredecibles de un minuto a otro. En una plataforma de custodia — como Kraken NFT — las transacciones se realizan fuera de la red blockchain y las tarifas de gas impredecibles se eliminan siempre que el NFT permanezca en la plataforma.

What is a blockchain gas fee image

Blockchain gas fees explained

Los validadores de la red, un grupo distribuido de personas que ejecutan un programa informático especializado para autenticar las transacciones de la blockchain, proporcionan esta potencia informática. Los validadores compran, ejecutan y mantienen su propio equipo mientras trabajan para garantizar la seguridad y precisión de una red de blockchain.

Las tarifas de gas juegan un papel importante al transferir valor de quienes necesitan un servicio de red de blockchain a quienes brindan la potencia informática necesaria para ejecutarlo. Las tarifas de gas incentivan a los validadores a procesar con precisión las transacciones y mantener la seguridad del libro mayor de la blockchain.

Network incentives, costs and penalties

Incentives

On proof-of-work (PoW) blockchains such as Ethereum, gas fees are paid by end users to the miners for validating their transactions. Miners compete using specialized computing equipment to generate random codes called hashes. The first miner able to randomly generate a cryptographic hash starting with the same number of zeroes (or more) compared to the “target hash” is declared the winner.

The successful miner can then fill the new block with pending transactions. This earns the miner newly created cryptocurrency distributed from the block reward and any fees attached to those transactions.

Gas fees are also important in blockchain protocols using the proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus mechanism, such as the next evolution of Ethereum, Ethereum 2.0. On these blockchains, gas fees reward validators who first commit a certain amount of cryptocurrency to the network in order to be selected to verify new transactions. 

Those who lock away more coins can run more validators, making them more likely to be selected to validate new transactions than those who commit fewer coins. However, some programmatic randomness at the protocol level means this isn’t guaranteed and validators with fewer coins can still be selected to validate transactions and earn the block reward.

Costs

Regardless of the consensus algorithm, validating transactions on a blockchain network isn’t free. Costs include specialized computer equipment and the electricity consumed by that equipment, as well as the financial stake locked away by validators operating these machines. 

To become a validator on the new proof-of-stake-based Ethereum 2.0 blockchain, individuals must stake a minimum of 32 ETH. 

Penalties 

Penalties can also occur for PoS validators who act outside of the rules set by the network. Commonly known as “slashing,” this is designed to deter bad actors and can result in the partial or complete confiscation of a validator’s stake. In extreme cases of malicious behavior, validators can be removed from a network altogether.

The particulars of slashing penalties vary across blockchains and are defined within the protocol’s rules.

By rewarding honest validators with incentives and penalizing dishonest actors, blockchain networks use principles from game theory to effectively and autonomously maintain the integrity of their information. This allows blockchains to use predefined rules to autonomously secure records without the need for intermediary institutions.

How are gas fees calculated and paid?


Gas fees are based on the fundamental economic concept of supply and demand

In the case of a blockchain, supply is the total computing power of validators on the network and demand is the total computing power required to execute network users’ submitted transactions. 

Returning to the car example, supply is the amount of gasoline stored in a gas station’s tanks and demand is the amount of gasoline the station’s customers want to buy. The price of gas is set in order to maximize profits for network validators / miners ​​and users willing to pay more for gas can have their transaction processed sooner.

Gas fees are typically updated in real time based on current network demand. Depending on their needs and means, users can manually adjust their fee offer to choose between faster-but-more-expensive settlement and slower-but-less-expensive settlement. 

Prior to Ethereum’s London Upgrade in August 2021, gas was calculated based on two factors:

  • Gas price: The price a user elects to pay for each unit of gas. You can think of it as setting the price you’re willing to pay per unit of fuel.
     
  • Gas limit: This is set by the user and determines the maximum amount of gas that can be used to perform a particular function. You can think of this as the maximum number of gallons of fuel a driver is willing to purchase.

Multiplying these two components together, Gas price x Gas limit, resulted in the maximum gas fee a user might pay to execute a transaction. 

After the introduction of EIP-1559, which aims to make gas fees more predictable, gas fees are calculated based on a new formula: 

Gas limit x (Base Fee + Priority Fee (Tip))

Rather than users determining the cost of gas fees, the Ethereum network now implements a base fee that automatically adjusts per block depending on user demand, while also outlining the lowest possible price a user must pay to have their transactions processed.

Once a gas fee is paid, the base fee amount of ETH is permanently removed (burned) from circulation. The update also allows users to tip validators (attach a priority fee) at their discretion in order to have their transactions processed quicker.

In a scenario where a user sets the gas limit too high, the network will automatically refund them the difference after their transaction has been processed.

Ethereum’s gas fees are paid in small denominations of the ETH cryptocurrency native to the Ethereum blockchain. These smaller units of ETH are referred to as GWEI, where one GWEI is equal to one billionth of an ETH (or 0.000000001 ETH). 

Online tools such as Etherscan’s Ethereum gas tracker allow users to check average Ethereum gas prices at any time to see how much they might need to pay for a given transaction.

A minimum gas limit of 21,000 GWEI is typically required to process transactions on Ethereum. Offering below this amount (or the stated minimum amount required to perform the computation) will result in a failed transaction, though the network validator will still take the fee.

Disfrute de cero tarifas de gas por operaciones en Kraken NFT


Las tarifas de gas han creado una barrera de entrada importante para muchos usuarios de la blockchain, pero especialmente para los coleccionistas de NFTs.

Los usuarios de Kraken NFT solo pagan tarifas de gas cuando mueven NFT dentro o fuera de la plataforma. Las operaciones ejecutadas en Kraken NFT no incurren en una tarifa de gas impredecible, ya sea comprando o vendiendo.

La eliminación de las tarifas de gas elimina el estrés del trading de NFTs, lo que significa que puede crear la colección de sus sueños sin preocuparse por costos inesperados.

Explore, seleccione y asegure su colección de NFTs — con cero tarifas de gas — en el mercado Kraken NFT.

Impacts of network activity on gas fees


Una red se congestiona a medida que los usuarios envían más transacciones. A medida que los validadores tienen que procesar más transacciones, los costos tienden a aumentar.

Lo contrario también es cierto: en momentos en que la demanda de servicios de la blockchain disminuye o aumenta la cantidad de validadores disponibles, el precio promedio del gas tiende a caer.

La demanda de proyectos basados ​​en NFT como CryptoKitties, Stoner Cats y Otherdeed for Otherside de Yuga Labs, ha llevado el precio del gas en la red Ethereum a niveles extremos en el pasado. En medio de este frenesí, el costo del gas superó los $10,000 y excedió el costo de los NFT.

Además, estos picos en la actividad de la red han causado retrasos significativos en la liquidación de transacciones en otros tipos de aplicaciones (DeFi, play-to-earn y más) en la red, lo que hace que muchos se pregunten si sus transacciones alguna vez se procesarán.