Rewards wallet now available

The balance snapshot was taken at 12:00 UTC on November 29, 2019. If you had ada in a mainnet Daedalus or Yoroi wallet at the time, you can now restore your testnet ada balance and access stake delegation features or start running a stake pool to earn real ada rewards.

network globe visualisation
Cardano logo
Incentivized Testnet

Run a Stake Pool

Operate a stake pool to earn real rewards, help us learn, and become part of the Cardano journey.
What is a Stake Pool?

A stake pool is a network node with a public address for users to delegate to. Stake pools are run by a reliable operator: an individual or business with the knowledge and resources to run the node on a consistent basis. Ada holders can then delegate to stake pools if they wish to participate in the protocol and receive rewards, but do not wish to operate a network node themselves.

The more stake delegated to a stake pool, the greater chance it has of being selected as a slot leader. Each time it is selected, it is rewarded, and these rewards are shared between the stake pool operator and stake pool delegates.

How do I set up a stake pool?

To learn how to set up a stake pool, read our stake pool operator guide or visit the testnet developer website. Anybody can learn how to operate a stake pool, but a degree of technical familiarity and knowledge is required.

It’s important to remember the role of a stake pool operator: to ensure reliable, 24/7 operation of a network node. This requires strong and stable network infrastructure and, ideally, system operation and server administration skills along with experience in development and operations.

Interested in developing on the Cardano platform or running a stake pool?
Visit the testnet developer website to find out how


You can use the Incentivized Testnet rewards calculator to get an idea of how much you will earn in rewards on the Incentivized Testnet. It’s important to note that the calculator produces only reward estimates and shouldn’t be considered definitive or a guarantee of reward amounts. Over the course of the Incentivized Testnet, we will likely test different parameters that may affect reward margins. Amounts calculated are therefore subject to change, but represent a realistic and sensible level of return.

As a stake pool operator, you will typically have:

  • Operational knowledge of how to run and maintain a Cardano node on a 24/7 basis
  • System operation skills
  • Experience of development and operations (DevOps)
  • Server administration skills (operational and maintenance)

We support Linux, Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD), Mac, and Windows platforms. The following versions are required:

  • Linux (2.6.18 or later)
  • BSD (NetBSD 8.x and FreeBSD 12.x)
  • OSX (10.7 Lion or later)
  • Windows 10

Stake pools will be ranked by performance, so it is important that your stake pool is online and active when elected to create blocks. Stake pool operators can also pledge – through delegation – their personal stake to their own pool. By providing a pledge address when they register the pool, users will be able to see which pools have been pledged to by their operator. Additionally, stake pool operators can inform users about:

  • Security: details of how a stake pool has been secured against hackers
  • Team: information on the operator’s team and experience in managing stake pools
  • Communication and social media: regular updates and support for delegators
  • Website: stake pool information and marketing

In the Incentivized Testnet, there will be a concept of pledging, whereby stake pool operators delegate their personal stake to their pool and register a pledge address when they register the stake pool. By creating an upfront cost for running a stake pool, pledging reduces the likelihood of Sybil attacks and increases the financial attractiveness of a pool. Pledging follows the same process as delegation.

The Incentivized Testnet has the concept of pledging, whereby stake pool operators delegate their personal stake to their pool and register a pledge address when they register the stake pool with the Cardano Foundation. Pledging is not currently enforced by the network protocol (although it may be in the future) and functions to increase the attractiveness of a pool, meaning that other delegators are more likely to delegate to that pool. Pledging follows the same process as delegation.

In the Incentivized Testnet, stake pools will be ranked based on their performance. This is a calculation based on the number of blocks the pool was tasked to create compared with the number of blocks it actually created. This is recorded over time. Over the duration of the testnet and for the mainnet, more ways of ranking stake pools will be added. We also recommend that ada holders also do their own independent research when choosing where to delegate their stake.

As always, we recommend that stake pool operators update their software whenever a new version is released. This ensures that the performance of your stake pool and therefore your rewards are unaffected. If you are not running the latest version of the software, you may be unable to participate in the Incentivized Testnet and this may affect the performance of your pool.

The Cardano entities will not be controlling stake pool activity because this is counter to the decentralized ethos of the project. However, the Cardano Foundation will moderate the ‘readable data’ of stake pools (including stake pool name, ticker ID, URL, and description) as they register to ensure they follow the community’s code of conduct. This moderation is for the Incentivized Testnet only, and will not be done for the Cardano mainnet.

IOHK and Emurgo are running stake pools to contribute to the testing process and support the network as it develops in the early stages.

Initially, IOHK is running six stake pools: two private and four public. As this is a testnet, it’s important that we stress test not only the network, but all network functionality. The pools run by IOHK are set to different high-end reward margins, allowing us to establish a precedent and set a benchmark to inform other stake pool operators. This encourages healthy network growth and ensures good returns for operators, while still enabling other stake pools to set reward margins competitive with IOHK’s. In addition, IOHK’s pools serve as a fallback option in the unlikely scenario that other stake pools are not available: by guaranteeing that there are high-quality, performing pools always online, we ensure the network stays resilient.

The Cardano Foundation is not currently planning to run any stake pools.

IOHK expects to delegate half of its stake to community stake pools, and the other half to the stake pools it runs. Delegating to community pools will allow us to stress test the system, and we will re-delegate to different pools each week. This will support the growth of community pools and encourage the development of a healthy ecosystem.

To help prevent any single stake pool from growing too large, the Incentivized Testnet has a mechanism to ensure pools saturate at a certain percentage. If any stake pool exceeds this percentage (of total stake in the network), then the rewards for that stake pool will no longer increase but will continue to be shared among delegators, making the pool less desirable. This saturation point is configurable and may be increased as the number of healthy pools grows.

Rewards for each epoch are distributed after the subsequent two epochs. This means that the testnet will not begin to distribute rewards until two epochs after launch, and stake pool operators will not see rewards until two epochs after the epoch during which their pool is registered. You’ll be able to transfer your rewards back to the mainnet once the Incentivized Testnet is complete.

Updates and releases for the testnet will follow proper release schedules. We recommend operators follow our social media accounts for the latest updates.

Rewards for delegation can be earned if you delegate to a stake pool that is sharing rewards. The amount you earn cannot be guaranteed and will ultimately depend on the stake pool, the amount of rewards they are prepared to share, and their performance. Throughout the Incentivized Testnet, we may also test new parameters that could affect rewards. These new parameters will be included in the calculator, so it will always be possible to calculate approximate rewards. It is also worth noting that rewards will only begin to be granted from the end of the epoch in which the associated stake was delegated.