Paper 2019/675

Balance: Dynamic Adjustment of Cryptocurrency Deposits

Dominik Harz, Lewis Gudgeon, Arthur Gervais, and William J. Knottenbelt


Financial deposits are fundamental to the security of cryptoeconomic protocols as they serve as insurance against potential misbehaviour of agents. However, protocol designers and their agents face a trade-off when choosing the deposit size. While substantial deposits might increase the protocol security, for example by minimising the impact of adversarial behaviour or risks of currency fluctuations, locked-up capital incurs opportunity costs. Moreover, some protocols require over-collateralization in anticipation of future events and malicious intentions of agents. We present Balance, an application-agnostic system that reduces over-collateralization without compromising protocol security. In Balance, malicious agents receive no additional utility for cheating once their deposits are reduced. At the same time, honest and rational agents increase their utilities for behaving honestly as their opportunity costs for the locked-up deposits are reduced. Balance is a round-based mechanism in which agents need to continuously perform desired actions. Rather than treating agents' incentives and behaviour as ancillary, we explicitly model agents' utility, proving the conditions for incentive compatibility. Balance improves social welfare given a distribution of honest, rational, and malicious agents. Further, we integrate Balance with a cross-chain interoperability protocol, XCLAIM, reducing deposits by 10% while maintaining the same utility for behaving honestly. Our implementation allows any number of agents to be maintained for at most 55,287 gas (ca. USD 0.07) to update all agents' scores, and at a cost of 54,948 gas (ca. USD 0.07) to update the assignment of all agents to layers.

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Publication info
Published elsewhere. MINOR revision.Proceedings of the 2019 ACM SIGSAC Conference on Computer and Communications Security
cryptocurrencydepositsecurityreputationmechanism design
Contact author(s)
d harz @ ic ac uk
2019-08-26: last of 2 revisions
2019-06-06: received
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Creative Commons Attribution


      author = {Dominik Harz and Lewis Gudgeon and Arthur Gervais and William J.  Knottenbelt},
      title = {Balance: Dynamic Adjustment of Cryptocurrency Deposits},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2019/675},
      year = {2019},
      doi = {10.1145/3319535.3354221},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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