Free Transactions, Just For Fun

When you think about what is the real innovation of blockchain, many people think that it is privacy or freedom, or a way to dissociate your assets from central bank issued currencies and inflation. It’s my opinion that the most interesting application of blockchain is the democratization of economy creation. By this, I mean that anyone can create an economy, and it’s value is emergent from how many people want to transact within it.

This is not so different from what has happened with short quotes as per Twitter, or video posts (youtube). The key factor in creating this value is of course scale. Having a transaction fee required for even the earliest of adopters kills this adoption in the womb, giving it no chance to scale (achieve value). Why should you have to pay “real” money to transact something that is “worthless”?

The reason that this question occurs to me is that I have twice now wanted to create or help others to create token economies for relatively low-value applications. The most current being a friend who wants to create an incentive system to encourage participation in a school event. I’m not sure if the name NEM, the New Economy Movemement is a reference to such a new, democratized economy or not, but the name implies it in my interpretation. It is certainly not achieving it through it’s current implementation.

To restate a scenario put forth by Andreas Antonopolous where students create their own coins and trade them with each other, a teacher could want to issue tokens to students for good behavior and allow the students to trade these assets with each other and trade/save up for the prize that they want. This is a totally harmless and quite fun application of blockchain but it can never happen with most blockchains because each participant would be required to hold some of the blockchains native currency in order to transact.

Why not allow users to specify their transaction fee as zero, knowing that if there was no free space in the block, that their transaction would have to wait until there was a free space. If the transaction does not go through in x blocks, the tokens are released back to origin.

The blocks are being processed anyway, why not allow some freeloaders to take the free space? Eventually, if the economy proved worthwile, people would be willing to pay to ensure that their transactions included in a sooner block. This removes one of the larger barriers to entry for early adoption of blockchain based economies much like the freemium business model which works well for many internet-based products. It gives the masses some wiggle room to play with and attempt to scale their own economies.

@Inside_NEM @DaveH @Jaguar0625 @crackTheCode Sorry to ping you all here, I know you’re busy, but I’d love anyone to explain or give input on why we cannot host such free low-value transactions.

In Catapult, you can run your own node that has zero fee option, meaning accounts with no currency at all can transact on the blockchain through this node (at least on private chain models). Some more info on fees here, where the concept of philanthropic nodes (that allow for these low-value txes to be let through) are introduced.

In short, as long as you can host a node (which can be done relatively easily with any old PC), you can customize its settings to have a zero fee model on a given network.


Thanks for the response Bader. Actually, hosting your own node is not that easy. It’s fine for me and you, but for your average user, the person who won’t even scroll down a page of google results, it’s just never going to happen

Say if they did do it though, or got the IT guy to do it for them, could they use the standard CATA wallet for it? I assume not. So, putting that idea aside for the moment…

I checked the link you shared, so the harvester sets the minimum fee and the harvesting strategy. Zero is an acceptable minimum fee and minimize-fees is the philantropic strategy (reference). So it appears that from the harvester side, zero fees are possible.
From the sender’s side, if you set the max fee to zero and there are min-fee = 0 philanthropic nodes online then, in theory ,you should have free transactions.


1 Like

Yep, that’s true, currently nodes require some steps before running.

I’m actually tested putting a Cat node in a GUI, and it’s entirely possible to have a button that starts all the necessary services, generate node keys etc. With that, you can have some checkboxes to tick off, i.e “No Fees” to customize your node. I imagine that would make it much easier for anyone to start.

Sidenote… Desktop wallet uses electron, which in turn has the ability to run and (somewhat) manage OS processes… integrate a Cat node option into the desktop wallet? :thinking:


Does not this make the network more vulnerable to security issues of various kinds?

In the beginning, would not your own testnet be more effective for such a project? The mosaics could be tied to Mosaics on the Mainnet then 1:1, if it makes sense or to assign you as needed a value. The students might then redeem their mosaics once a month for example.

The point is that it is not accessible. Actually, I think that these philanthropic nodes and zero fees are a great solution to allow people to play. I just hope the community are not priced out.

Deploying a testnet implies coding ability or investment. It means its only really open for hackers or commercialisation not just for fun use.

Would like to jump in here as I think this idea makes sense.

The example of students creating their own coins and trading them with each other and encouraging school event participation through an incentive system is a great learning example of democratization of economy creation. Value is derived from the people who prescribe value to it. There should be an avenue for projects and initiatives like this to take place on the public chain in the least painful way possible (from a tech understanding perspective)

This thought is worth considering:

Other options could include a philanthropic or social responsibility allocation where tokens could be granted with the intention that it would be used only for payment of transactions on the chain.

There are a few other points brought up that link to user experience and user interface - would like to tag @gevs here too. What level of technical sophistication is required to set up a node and develop your own ‘decentralized economy’? Is there an avenue for such ideas to exist with the new chain?

Although, the words ‘new economy movement’ may not be used overtly, considering ideas like these carry the ethos of creating new economies in its unique way.

Just to follow up on this.

Yes the above is all correct, and I know of a few node owners who already plan to run some philanthropic nodes, so it is very likely there will be nodes on Catapult that offer this service.

The key obviously will be to make sure there are enough of those nodes online that the transactions do actually get picked up.

But the basic answer is yes you should have free transactions using the approach you outlined and I am aware of parties already planning to make that real on Catapult main net so it should be good to go as soon as those nodes come online.