Controlling RAM Prices for EOS New Users

One of the main problems in the emerging EOS community over the last week there has been a sharp spike in RAM prices up to 400 EOS / Mb.

As noted by Evolution (https://hackernoon.com/solving-ram-speculation-property-rights-in-eos-631ca10c1970),

In the EOS ecosystem a token holder’s assets are tied to a user account that requires 4KB of RAM for the opportunity to commit actions and store data locally within their account.

At 4KB /user and $400/MB, this is about $8 / new user. Somebody has to pay this and the choices are either (a) the user when they create an account or (b) the wallet or dapp that creates this account for them.

As Josh Kopelman noted in 2007 in his article “the penny gap”, there is a huge gap between getting a free user and getting a user to pay even a penny for an app, let alone $8 for a new EOS account. In practice this can cause a 100x difference in adoption rates. Consumers expect apps to be generally free to at least try out.

Most apps that I know have customer acquisition fees in the $1-$4 range. Adding a fee of under a dollar to subsidize RAM needs for new users is not a problem. It’s just a cost of doing business. If the number if $10 however, the math breaks down. “Tell a friend” referral programs break down. Non-real users because a real problem. A bad bot can put you out of business.

The 4kb per user however is not the problem. If EOS supports 100,000,000 user accounts, these accounts will require 400,000,000 KB or 400 GB of RAM under current system configurations. This is not a constraint, because as Dan Larimer notes:

Over time Moore’s law will allow block producers to upgrade to 4TB or even 16TB of RAM and this increase in supply will trickle into the the EOSIO RAM market lowering prices.

So long as the Block Producers are properly incentivized to add more RAM (which they are not currently), supporting even one billion EOS accounts is possible.

So what needs to be done? A number of proposals are floating around the EOS community and can be summarized as follows:

  1. Speculation needs to constrained by instituting “taxes” on capital gains that can increase if you are closer to system capacity. Evolution, GreyMass and others have proposed variants on this.
  2. Block Producers can be incentivized to add more RAM. This is the “supply side” of the equation that is completely missing. Right now BP’s are being paid the same regardless of how much RAM they are providing. There is no incentive to add more.
  3. In-active accounts can be moved to a “standby status” whereupon they consume less RAM (and are charged for it). In fact, all RAM can be moved to a “leasing model” as opposed to a “purchasing model”.
  4. Accounts benefit the whole network, an in particular they benefit the block producers. Right now they earn an aggregate of 92mm / year. If EOS dies that fountain goes away as well. It is in the interest of the BP to get as many people on the network as possible. Account creation should be free (subsidized by Inflation). HT martin warwursh.

I’m hopeful that these issues will be solved by the community. If you have any feedback please hit me up on telegram as @workcoinfred or email fred@workcoin.net