Full Node Incentives

Full node incentives are still very much in the early-research stage.

The Celo protocol supports gateway fees. These fees create an incentive for node operators to run a full node that is not a validator and act as a 'gateway', i.e. answer requests and forward transactions, on behalf of light clients. This is important since it is likely that the vast majority of nodes in the Celo network will be light or ultralight clients, and so the vast majority of full nodes will need to be deployed to service them rather than act as validators. In contrast, in Ethereum, there are few incentives to run a full node that is not mining and so few nodes serve light clients, resulting in a poor experience for mobile wallets.

A pair of optional fields in the transaction structure, the GatewayFee and GatewayFeeRecipient, may be specified by light clients to identify the full node which is acting as their gateway to the Celo network. Light clients will set the GatewayFeeRecipient to the Etherbase of the serving full node and the GatewayFee field to a small amount of CELO, or alternative fee currency, which will be sent to the recipient at the point that the transaction is processed and included in a block. Note that the gateway fee is paid even if the transaction is reverted.

By attaching a payment to the transaction, the light client incentives the full node to serve its requests. Although many of the APIs that a light client will need to call, such as requesting block headers or chain state, do not provide any payment to the full node, refusing to serve non-transaction RPC calls will cause the light client to seek other full nodes to serve their transactions. Light clients may choose full node peers based on location, cost, reliability and other factors to optimize cost and quality of service.

When a minimum gateway fee is specified, full nodes refuse to process a transaction if the GatewayFeeRecipient field is not set to the full node's Etherbase or the GatewayFee value is not high enough. Full nodes set their Etherbase with the --etherbase flag to indicate the address to which gateway fees should be sent and the --light.gatewayfee flag to indicate the minimum fee value they will accept.