No more need for consensus

Olaf van Wijk

In this article, I shortly describe a mechanism for a vote-free and consensus-free mechanism in distributed ledgers to provide instant payments. A mechanism that could be added to most ledgers.

The idea here is to provide usability (like 0 block confirmations) over privacy and security.


Consensus, the holy grail of distributed ledger technology. It is the process of ‘what to agree on’. This process kicks in when there is something to vote on. Like bitcoin having two transactions trying to spend the same money. Consensus is the mechanism that chooses, it picks. Whether it is active (voting) or passive (deterministic through random oracles).

The benefit

Consensus is often considered to be a requirement because an adversary can gain benefit from trying to influence the choice. Like getting the real world assets but having the transaction reversed because consensus chose the transaction that wasn’t related. In other words, produce a double-spend.

With these short statements I make the claim:

If there is no benefit to be gained, you don’t need consensus.

Introducing pay-with-stake.

The main idea here is that when a conflict occurs between the transaction being issued and when it confirms all tokens/coins/credits/whatever gets burned. Simply destroyed, recursively until the source transaction is credited for.

A requirement for this is that proof of ownership in the next transaction must be included in the form of a remainder address.


If any conflict on Address A arrises all tokens get destroyed recursively. Since we know that Address B is the next owner we see in the image above that the payment had a 70% stake. If I were to damn double-spend that coffee because I hate them, it would cost me much more then I would deny from them.

It is not fail-safe but having such a mechanism in place could let shops force a 50% stake on instant payments and they simply wouldn’t accept transactions that have unconfirmed pay-with-stake transactions as a source.

Simple and an effective way to provide instant payments, if something goes wrong, everyone loses. So no need to vote!


Of course, this burn in hell approach is a bit harsh but for this mechanism, you don’t need any consensus. But things could go wrong of course, without any party intending the transaction to go and incinerate itself.

So all parties can co-sign a recovery transaction that reverses the burn, a phoenix transaction so to say. For this recovery transaction, you would need the voting overhead in case a conflict occurs there. Or you could just say, you got one chance and if it fails, well the phoenix died as well.


I think this mechanism could have great benefits for any potential crypto project. I am well aware it isn’t a trivial mechanism to implement even if it is easy to reason about. Especially the recursive crediting.

There is, of course, more detail to this mechanism but this is the main gist of it. If you feel like contacting me just reply here or:

And of course the mandatory donation addresses:

Btc: 37c3F99ddN4QV7M44bsg2XSV9wxJ7xvQqG

Ether: 0x854f4FC5917DC9e17647bEF58571dF9b47aF4A7A



What do you think?


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