The problem with paying gas to run transactions is that it discourages lots of transactions. The advantage of paying gas to run transactions, though, is that it discourages lots of transactions.
This contradiction is captured well in a new paper examining transactions on EOS, Tezos and XRP Ledger (XRPL) over a seven-month period ending in April. Researchers from Imperial College London and University College London found the overwhelming number of transactions on these three networks either have no value attached or are passing it back and forth within one entity.
Titled “Revisiting Transactional Statistics of High-scalability Blockchain,” by Daniel Perez, Jiahua Xu and Benjamin Livshits, the report explains these findings in detail.
“Our analysis reveals that only a small fraction of the transactions are used for value transfer purposes,” the authors write. “In particular, 96% of the transactions on EOSIO were triggered by the airdrop of a currently valueless token; on Tezos, 76% of throughput was used for maintaining consensus; and over 94% of transactions on XRPL carried no economic value.”
Read more: A Mysterious Airdrop Called EIDOS Is Clogging EOS to Make a Point
The authors’ latest version came out Wednesday, following up on two prior versions, with this one including several more months of data. It immediately sparked discussion, with its findings that high-throughput blockchains don’t necessarily have a lot of payment activity.
It also illuminated the fact that transparency doesn’t necessarily equal legibility.
So many records can pile up on a blockchain that needed information can become needles in a very large haystack. As Perez, a Ph.D. candidate at Imperial College London told CoinDesk in an email, “When the level of spam activity is very high, the size of the history gets disproportionately large given the amount of useful activity on the network. This makes such blockchains much more difficult to analyze and reason about.”
That said, the authors’ analysis is based on a careful examination of each blockchain, looking at the kinds of transactions and characterizing what kind of work they represented. Then they looked at the biggest users of the networks, which generally corresponded to most of the usage, and dug deeper into what was going on in their transactions.
As the authors note, there has been a dearth of academic investigation into blockchains besides that of Bitcoin and Ethereum. This analysis of EOS, XRP Ledger and Tezos covers the period from October 1, 2019 to April 30, 2020, using data collected by the open source tool, Blockchain Analyzer. Here’s what they found for each chain.
Last November, CoinDesk reported on a mysterious airdrop on EOS that gave users an incentive to make as many low-value transactions as they could, called EIDOS, which overall made the blockchain more expensive to use, making it look very much like a denial of service (DoS) attack (also evidenced by the fact…