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Mastercard has already partnered with crypto card providers such as Wirex and BitPay, but has required digital currencies to be converted into fiat before processing payments for transactions on its network. Mastercard, in a blog post late Wednesday, singled out so-called "stablecoins," which often peg their value to that of another asset, such as the US dollar.
We use three key elements of the actor-network theory — punctualization, translation, and actor heterogeneity—and employ case study methodology to examine Bitcoin splits. Our results show that the consolidation of actors in homogeneous groups plays a key role in blockchain splits. This paper investigates the focal actors in a blockchain network and their heterogeneity in splits. In addition, we discuss the roles of these actors and their engagement in forming micro and macro agencies in blockchain splits. We identify several human actors, such as miners, developers, merchants, and investors, as well as non-human actors, including blockchain, exchanges, hardware manufacturers, and wallets, involved in Bitcoin splits. Disagreements in blockchain communities often lead to splits in both the blockchain and the community. We further describe how the human and non-human actors' fluid moves into micro and bitcoin macro actor positions in the network affect the development of the split.
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Specific to Stacks, a minority STX token holders have the power to vote to compel PoX miners to burn the BTC instead of transferring it if it is discovered that miners are systemically discount-mining, thereby eliminating the advantage. Because the upside of doing this is capped by vigilant STX holders, and because discount mining requires miners to forego selling their STX to recoup their BTC spend for a long time, it is unlikely to be a problem in practice. However, this degraded form of mining still has an ongoing capital cost in the form of a (BTC) transaction fee, which prevents the system from fully collapsing into PoS. Over time, this would allow discount miners to out-compete non-discount miners, since their true expenditures are lower than they appear on-chain. Discount mining occurs when PoX miners use their accumulated block rewards to receive PoX token transfers from other miners (including themselves). Moreover, the existence of a thriving set of use-cases for STX beyond locking them for PoX further renders discount-mining as a less profitable and more risky use of STX.
Because of these three properties — miners only need to spend BTC to mine, the Stacks blockchain can fork, and there exists a way to compute the canonical fork — the Stacks blockchain is not a PoS blockchain. Nothing is staked or slashed; miners irretrievably expend a resource (BTC) for the coin (STX) at a rate that over time approximates the expected value of the coin earned; each chain fork represents a cumulative expenditure of the resource (BTC and time), which acts as a proxy indicator of how much economic activity the fork represents.
In the Stacks blockchain, liveness and safety are obtained by incentivizing miners to flood the network with all blocks they’ve confirmed, and to build on each other’s blocks. This works in practice because for most transactions, there is only a small confirmation depth at which it would be more costly for a hostile miner to try and revert the transaction’s block than it would be to simply accept that it is now canonical. Like a PoW chain, the Stacks chain implements a form of Nakamoto consensus : bitcoin
there is no irreversible agreement reached on whether or not a block is accepted in the canonical fork; instead, it simply becomes harder and harder to revert a block’s inclusion as more and more blocks are built on it.
In PoX, the only difference is that the miners spend another blockchain’s tokens (BTC in Stacks’ case) instead of energy. This is similar to the economic security of a PoW blockchain. Like in PoW, each fork of the Stacks chain has its own independent "security budget" — an attacker must out-spend the security budget to carry out a reorg, and the security budget is a function of the block rewards. By contrast, disinterested Bitcoin
miners neither assist nor prevent a reorg in PoX — they only record the history of all Stacks forks. The onus on these systems is to get external miners to care enough to do so, and in the case of sidechains, drivechains, and blind merged-mined chains, there is an additional onus to encourage their nodes to mine blocks at all (since there is no on-chain reward for them to earn by doing so). Therefore, Stacks can’t be a sidechain, a drivechain, or a merge-mined chain, because none of these other systems’ security budgets are a function of their tokens’ worth. Sidechains, drivechains, and merged-mined chains all rely on external miners for their safety, since their safety is guaranteed in part by external miners validating their blocks.