Staking is the process by which a SOL token holder (such as someone who purchased SOL tokens on an exchange) assigns some or all of their tokens to a particular validator or validators, which helps increase those validators’ voting weight.
There are two ways to participate in staking: by directly staking to a validator, or by delegating to a stake pool. In both cases, delegators still control all staked tokens that they may have chosen to stake.
On Solana, stake pools are a collection of one or more validator nodes. In delegating to a stake pool, delegators can stake to many validators at once. Delegators who stake this way will receive a liquid stake pool token (e.g. JitoSOL) in exchange for staking with a pool. In this way, depositors instantly receive a liquid token which can be immediately used for DeFi.
Stake pools help decentralize the network by delegating stake across many validator nodes. Each stake pool has its own unique validator criteria and delegation strategy, with some pools requiring that validators be geographically decentralized and meet minimum performance criteria in order to be added to the validator set.
Stakers should not have to compromise between high yields and supporting the network's decentralization goals. JitoSOL achieves both these goals while supporting efficient MEV extraction. Nodes must meet performance and decentralization criteria in order to receive stake from JitoSOL. Reference our delegation page for further details.
Liquid staking tokens derive utility from their DeFi composability. JitoSOL has several flagship partners at launch and expects to have a broad array of integrations within several months. See our guide to JitoSOL's DeFi applications.