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The NuCypher WorkLock Begins September 1, 2020

WorkLock, a novel node distribution mechanism used to launch the NuCypher network, allows participants to lock ETH to a smart contract, receive NU tokens, run NuCypher (Ursula) nodes, and receive fees, rewards, and their ETH back in return for providing useful work to the network.

The NuCypher WorkLock Begins September 1, 2020

By Bison Trails · Aug 28 2020
Last updated: Sep 22 2020

September 1 at 00:00 UTC marks the official start of The NuCypher WorkLock, a novel node distribution mechanism that will be used to launch the network. Participants in the WorkLock bid by locking Ethereum (ETH) into a smart contract in order to receive NU tokens and use them to run NuCypher (Ursula) nodes.

Node operators receive fees (from network participants in exchange for data-encryption) and token-based rewards (from the network’s inflation) in return for providing useful work to the network. In addition, by running NuCypher nodes and staking the WorkLock NU tokens, all of the participants’ original ETH will be returned.

The lockup period for ETH will be six months from the launch of mainnet, depending upon the amount of work performed by the node. NuCypher will allocate 225,000,000 NU tokens (22.5% of the total initial supply) to reward participants in the WorkLock.

NuCypher requires participants to escrow a minimum amount of ETH to receive the NU tokens necessary to run a node; this minimum amount of ETH will be equivalent to $2000 USD. The exact amount will be dictated by the ETH to USD exchange rate at the time of contract deployment (on Sept. 1). In exchange for that minimum amount, a participant will receive 15,000 NU, the minimum stake necessary to run an Ursula node. If a participant decides to lock “bonus” ETH (an amount above the minimum), she will receive additional NU tokens based on the total number of participants in the WorkLock and the total amount of “bonus” ETH locked by all participants.

The maximum stake any individual WorkLock participant can receive is 30,000,000 NU. If a bid is submitted that exceeds the cap, ETH will be partially refunded to the participant. The max bid size is determined by the bids of all other contributors. Please email us at sales@bisontrails.co for help if you are concerned you may hit the cap.


Total WorkLock NU 225,000,000 NU
Minimum ETH Escrow $2,000 worth of ETH at time of contract deployment
Minimum NU Allocation per Participant 15,000 NU
Maximum NU Allocation per Participant 30,000,000 NU
WorkLock Contribution Window Ends 9/28 23:59 UTC
WorkLock Cancellation Window 9/29 00:01 UTC to 9/30 23:59 UTC
WorkLock Participants Variable amount
Total WorkLock ETH Contribution Variable amount


Here are a few examples of how the process is expected to work. These examples assume a minimum escrow of 5 ETH. These examples are illustrative and actual results may differ. For additional detail on the formulas that govern the distribution process, refer to NuCypher’s documentation.


Example One

Charlie wants to participate in the WorkLock and has 100 ETH (5 ETH + 95 “bonus” ETH) he is willing to lock up. The bidding period ends with 500,000 ETH total deposited in the WorkLock by 1000 participants.

Minimum Supply of ETH

  • Every participant, including Charlie, receives 15,000 NU for the first 5ETH deposited.

    15,000 NU x 1000 = 15,000,000 NU = minimum allocation of NU

Bonus Supply of NU & ETH

  • The bonus NU supply is the total supply minus the minimum allocation of NU.

    225,000,000 NU - 15,000,000 NU = 210,000,000 NU = bonus supply of NU
  • The bonus ETH supply is the total amount of ETH escrowed minus the minimum escrow of ETH.

    5 ETH x 1000 = 5,000 ETH = minimum escrow of ETH
    500,000 ETH - 5,000 ETH = 495,000 ETH = bonus ETH supply

Charlie’s Bonus NU

  • Charlie receives the percent of the bonus supply equivalent to the percent of bonus ETH escrow he deposited.

    95 ETH/495,000 ETH = .019% = Charlie’s percent of the bonus supply of NU
    .019% x 210,000,000 NU = 39,900 NU = Charlie’s bonus NU

Charlie’s Total NU from Worklock

  • Charlie receives the total of his minimum NU plus his bonus NU.

    15,000 NU + 39,900 NU = 54,900 NU = Charlie’s total NU from WorkLock

Example Two

Liz wants to participate in the WorkLock and has 505 ETH (5 ETH + 500 “bonus” ETH) she is willing to lock up. The bidding period ends with 500,000 ETH total deposited in the WorkLock by 1000 participants.

Minimum Supply of ETH

  • Every participant, including Liz, receives 15,000 NU for the first 5ETH deposited.

    15,000 NU x 1000 = 15,000,000 NU = minimum allocation of NU

Bonus Supply of NU & ETH

  • The bonus NU supply is the total supply minus the minimum allocation of NU.

    225,000,000 NU - 15,000,000 NU = 210,000,000 NU = bonus supply of NU
  • The bonus ETH supply is the total amount of ETH escrowed minus the minimum escrow of ETH.

    5 ETH x 1000 = 5,000 ETH = minimum escrow of ETH
    500,000 ETH - 5,000 ETH = 495,000 ETH = bonus ETH supply

Liz’s Bonus NU

  • Liz receives the percent of the bonus supply equivalent to the percent of bonus ETH escrow she deposited.

    500 ETH/495,000 ETH = .101% = Liz’s percent of the bonus supply of NU
    .101% x 210,000,000 NU = 212,121 NU = Liz’s bonus NU

Liz’s Total NU from Worklock

  • Liz receives the total of her minimum NU plus his bonus NU.

    15,000 NU + 212,100 NU = 227,121 NU = Liz’s total NU from WorkLock

EXAMPLE THREE

Joan wants to participate in the WorkLock and has 505 ETH (5 ETH + 500 “bonus” ETH) she is willing to lock up. The bidding period ends with 500,000 ETH total deposited in the WorkLock by 5000 participants.

Minimum Supply of ETH

  • Every participant, including Joan, receives 15,000 NU for the first 5ETH deposited.

    15,000 NU x 5000 = 75,000,000 NU = minimum allocation of NU

Bonus Supply of NU & ETH

  • The bonus NU supply is the total supply minus the minimum allocation of NU.

    225,000,000 NU - 75,000,000 NU = 150,000,000 NU = bonus supply of NU
  • The bonus ETH supply is the total amount of ETH escrowed minus the minimum escrow of ETH.

    5 ETH x 5000 = 25,000 ETH = minimum escrow of ETH
    500,000 ETH - 25,000 ETH = 475,000 ETH = bonus ETH supply

Joan’s Bonus NU

  • Joan receives the percent of the bonus supply equivalent to the percent of bonus ETH escrow she deposited.
    500 ETH/475,000 ETH = .105% = Joan’s percent of the bonus supply of NU
    .105% x 150,000,000 NU = 157,500 NU = Joan’s bonus NU

Joan’s Total NU from Worklock

  • Joan receives the total of her minimum NU plus her bonus NU.
    15,000 NU + 157,500 NU = 172,500 NU = Joan’s total NU from WorkLock



Locking ETH

  1. Over the course of four weeks (Sept 1-28), WorkLock participants lock ETH to a smart contract escrowed on-chain.*
  2. The bidding period ends on the 28th. There is a brief window of time to cancel the bid (Sept 29-30).
  3. The cancellation window ends and NU tokens are distributed across participants that submitted the minimum allowed bid ($2000 in ETH).
  4. NU tokens distributed to participants are automatically deposited into the StakingEscrow contract when claimed during the claiming window at the launch of mainnet (expected October 2020). ETH contributed to the WorkLock is held in an on-chain escrow.
  5. To unlock ETH and NU, the token holder must spin up an Ursula (worker) node, bond her stake to it, and produce a sufficient amount of work for the network. If using Bison Trails, this would be the Ursula node address that she spins up on the platform.
  6. Running an Ursula node by staking the WorkLock NU tokens and performing work on the network will unlock the escrowed ETH and subsequently the WorkLock NU tokens. When WorkLock NU is unlocked, it is up to the custodian/end customer to decide if she would like to re-stake the NU tokens to the Ursula node or to transfer/use as she likes.

* If a participant plans to run her own node, she can lock her ETH into a WorkLock smart contract using two methods:

  • Self-sovereign: Use the NuCypher CLI. NuCypher provides a guide here.
  • 3rd party web UI: Use either of these UIs (Stakeit-Space or Stake-NU) to connect Web3 wallets like Metamask to stake directly.

Bison Trails is not developing pooled delegation at the moment and can only support 1 staking node per token holder. If someone creates a pooling smart contract, we will consider adding support for pooling.

Bison Trails assists customers with all steps in WorkLock participation and NuCypher staking, including providing custom instructions for unique self-custody configurations. Contact us at sales@bisontrails.co to get started.

If someone doesn't have the minimum ETH amount or interested in pooling ETH, she can participate in a pool on CoinList. She simply stakes ETH for six months and CoinList pools it with other participants and runs a node for them to earn rewards, split proportionally based on each participant's staked amount.


Getting ETH Back

It will take approximately six months** of participation on the network to recover all of the escrowed ETH. The specific amount of time will depend on the amount staked to a node and the staking participation rate of the network as a whole.

ETH is unlocked a little every day. Once the ETH is unlocked, it can be recovered. Due to gas costs, many participants will only want to call for the return of their ETH occasionally or all at once after the escrow period is complete.

**Note that the escrow period starts at mainnet launch, not at WorkLock deployment, and all timelines are set by the protocol, not Bison Trails.


Participate in the NuCypher WorkLock with Bison Trails

On Monday September 14, 2020 at 11am ET, MacLane Wilkison (Co-founder and CEO of NuCypher), Aaron Henshaw (Bison Trails’ Co-Founder and CTO) and Viktor Bunin (Protocol Specialist at Bison Trails) held a virtual event and Q&A on the WorkLock NU token distribution and how you can participate. Watch the event replay now!

Bison Trails is excited to support NuCypher and make it incredibly easy for you to participate in the protocol.

  • You will need to lock your ETH in the WorkLock contract, enabling you to receive your NuCypher tokens. WorkLock participants are entitled to recoup their deposited ETH as long as they run a node.
  • As a non-custodial infrastructure provider, Bison Trails will help you run a NuCypher Ursula worker node for the approximate 6 months necessary until the WorkLock contract unlocks and returns your ETH back to you, along with the NU tokens earned (minus Bison Trails’ applicable service fee) through your participation. Want to dig deeper? Read the WorkLock participation details.
  • If you would like to continue participating on NuCypher after the WorkLock ends, you will be able to continue running your node with Bison Trails with no interruption.

Help strengthen the network and earn NU tokens in exchange for your active participation. If you have ETH you feel comfortable locking up for 6 months and would like to participate, send us a note.

Contact us for pricing

We’ve been working hard building the most reliable, secure, private, and highly available node infrastructure to support NuCypher, as well as for many more protocols.


About Bison Trails


Our mission is to provide superior infrastructure on multiple blockchains, to strengthen the entire ecosystem, and enable the pioneers of tomorrow.

Pioneering Blockchain Infrastructure®

Bison Trails is a blockchain infrastructure company based in New York City. We built a platform for anyone who wants to participate in 19 new chains effortlessly. We also make it easy for anyone building Web 3.0 applications to connect to blockchain data from 27 protocols with QT. Our goal is for the entire blockchain ecosystem to flourish by providing robust infrastructure for the pioneers of tomorrow.


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THIS DOCUMENT IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. PLEASE DO NOT CONSTRUE ANY SUCH INFORMATION OR OTHER MATERIAL CONTAINED IN THIS DOCUMENT AS LEGAL, TAX, INVESTMENT, FINANCIAL, OR OTHER ADVICE. THIS DOCUMENT AND THE INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN IS NOT A RECOMMENDATION OR ENDORSEMENT OF ANY DIGITAL ASSET, PROTOCOL, NETWORK OR PROJECT. HOWEVER, BISON TRAILS (INCLUDING ITS AFFILIATES AND/OR EMPLOYEES) MAY HAVE, OR MAY IN THE FUTURE HAVE, A SIGNIFICANT FINANCIAL INTEREST IN, AND MAY RECEIVE COMPENSATION FOR SERVICES RELATED TO, ONE OR MORE OF THE DIGITAL ASSETS, PROTOCOLS, NETWORKS, ENTITIES, PROJECTS AND/OR VENTURES DISCUSSED HEREIN.

THE RISK OF LOSS IN CRYPTOCURRENCY, INCLUDING STAKING, CAN BE SUBSTANTIAL AND NOTHING HEREIN IS INTENDED TO BE A GUARANTEE AGAINST THE POSSIBILITY OF LOSS. THIS DOCUMENT AND THE CONTENT CONTAINED HEREIN ARE BASED ON INFORMATION WHICH IS BELIEVED TO BE RELIABLE AND HAS BEEN OBTAINED FROM SOURCES BELIEVED TO BE RELIABLE BUT BISON TRAILS MAKES NO REPRESENTATION OR WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, AS TO THE FAIRNESS, ACCURACY, ADEQUACY, REASONABLENESS OR COMPLETENESS OF SUCH INFORMATION.

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