The Ethereum ‚Merge‘ has happened and marks a new era for greener cryptos and blockchain

On September 6, 2022, the Ethereum community released the Bellatrix upgrade in order to start “The Merge” process. With this first upgrade, the community decided to swap the proof-of-work chain with this proof-of-stake chain upon hitting a certain Total Terminal Difficulty value on the original Ethereum blockchain. Through the upgrade, Ethereum’s network will be able to process more transactions at once and avoid bottlenecks. Ether tokens will remain exactly the same for investors, and there should be no change to the operations of Ethereum-based applications.

  • Khristopher J. Brooks is a reporter for CBS MoneyWatch covering business, consumer and financial stories that range from economic inequality and housing issues to bankruptcies and the business of sports.
  • The PoS protocol selects the users known as “validators” to verify transactions on the blockchain.
  • Ethereum’s switch to Proof-of-Stake could be considered one of the most significant events in the crypto universe.
  • 2022 is the year Ethereum is set to complete its largest protocol change in history.
  • Ethereum introduced a proof-of-stake network in 2020 called the Beacon Chain, but until the Merge it was just a staging area for validators to get set up for the switch.

Before the Merge, Ethereum ran on proof-of-work, where computers all around the world competed to solve puzzles so they could add a new block to the chain. That was pretty energy-inefficient because all these miners were competing to solve the puzzle at the same time, but only one could win; all other energy was wasted. Proof of stake, on the other hand, has validators who’ve put up their Ethereum as collateral. Ethereum, the second-largest cryptocurrency, has switched to proof-of-stake, cutting its energy demands. The transition, which has been in the works since 2016, won’t change much for the average Ethereum user, but it sidelines miners.

But all staked ether will earn interest, which turns staking into something like buying shares or bonds without the computing overhead. Ethereum is a blockchain-based software platform with the native coin, ether. Ethereum smart contracts support a variety of distributed apps across the crypto ecosystem.

Ethereum 2.0 Staking Ecosystem Report

A radical update last week to the Ethereum cryptocurrency was supposed to reduce energy consumption by 99 per cent, but the savings have so far failed to materialise as miners evicted from the network flock to other currencies. Estimates suggest that at least 50 per cent of energy hungry mining hardware formerly running Ethereum has now been put to use mining other coins. This requires far less power than mining and will translate to faster transactions. “The positive momentum will be for those projects that are building on top of Ethereum such aspolygon,arbitrum… among many others,” he says. Because proof of stake involves fewer people using their computers to verify transactions, fewer terawatt-hours are burned. After nearly two years thinking about and testing a new way of conducting transactions, ethereum developers say it’s finally ready for prime time.

As data firm Messari has pointed out, Lido Finance controls a whopping 31.2% of all staked Ether on the Beacon Chain, while Coinbase controls 14.7% and Kraken 8.5%. The merge hasn’t happened yet, but the Beacon Chain already has over 415,000 validators. While the 32 Ether staked as collateral serves as a major incentive to behave appropriately, there are also punishments for validators that are incompetent or malicious.

There’s hope that quicker transactions and a reduction in fees could lead to more investors on the Ethereum network. The switch will take Ethereum from the intensive energy-consuming PoW model to the PoS model. Both mechanisms are used to confirm transactions and add new blocks to the chain, but they work differently.

The issuance of Ethereum as block rewards also will be significantly reduced. After the merge, that number will drop to Ethereum Proof of Stake Model about 1,600 Ether rewarded per day. This is a 90% reduction in Ether issues, slowing the inflationary growth of Ether.

Why is Ethereum Switching Now

The transition, years in the making, is technically sophisticated, controversial, and likely to be the biggest event in the crypto space for some time to come. So, let’s break down what the merge is, why it’s essential, and what it means for the future of the crypto and NFT space. There could be vulnerabilities that could come to the fore when the system works at the scale Ethereum does, where thousands of smart contracts are on the blockchain and billions of dollars are at stake. The release of the Beacon Chain was a test that the method can work and the developers are going ahead with the Merge after being satisfied with the progress. Ethereum users do not need to do much to adapt to a new life under Ethereum’s PoS system.

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The transition to PoS has removed the need for mining nodes to compete for block rewards; instead, it requires node operators to stake 32 Ether as collateral to become network validators to earn rewards. Proof-of-stake underlies certain consensus mechanisms used by blockchains to achieve distributed consensus. In proof-of-work, miners prove they have capital at risk by expending energy. Ethereum uses proof-of-stake, where validators explicitly stake capital in the form of ETH into a smart contract on Ethereum.

Why is Ethereum Switching Now

In comparison, the Proof of Stake system relies on the network participants staking their crypto coin holdings, which can either be used as collateral or even destroyed if the user behaves dishonestly. In the case of Ethereum, a miner needs to stake 32 ETH to participate in the system, which at the time of writing is equivalent to US$52,440. The Ethereum developers made clear that the timing is an estimate and nothing is finalized yet. Following London, other forks like Arrow Glacier and Gray Glacier pushed the difficulty bomb off further and changed its parameters. This is unsurprising since, during the busiest periods on Ethereum, gas fees can reach hundreds of dollars, making the network unviable for many.

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In the hours and days ahead there’s the risk of bugs, hacks, and price instability. There’s also the risk of forks, whereby multiple versions of Ether are created by miners on different chains resulting in confusion and an environment ripe for scams. Made the transition from a power-hungry, proof-of-work system to an environmentally friendly proof-of-stake system.

Guo and other developers proposed a hard fork that would retain the proof-of-work mining model. A hard fork is a radical upgrade to a blockchain that permanently changes its functionality. Currently, there are only a few blockchains that run on the proof-of-work consensus and are graphics processing unit compatible, which can offer Ethereum miners the luxury of a GPU-compatible blockchain.

Why is Ethereum Switching Now

Beiko tells CNBC the original proposal required validators to have 1,500 ether, a stake now worth around $2.7 million, in order to use the system. To lower the barrier to entry, the new proof-of-stake proposal would require interested users to have only 32 ether, or about $57,600. Tim Beiko, the coordinator for ethereum’s protocol developers, agreed and added that the network is now stable. However, he noted that the test hit „some minor known issues,“ and developers „will be spending the next few days triaging them before discussing next steps on this Friday’s AllCoreDevs call.“ Later this year, ethereum is expected to undergo an official transition from the energy-intensive proof-of-work method of securing the network to proof-of-stake. The price of ethereum has dropped more than 35% from its all-time high back in November 2021, and trading volume has lulled.

What Is ‚The Merge‘? Ethereum’s Move to Proof of Stake

If you are an investor, and you still don’t understand, it’s a great moment to educate yourself and learn,” he says. It will take a while until everything is in place, and other factors such as increasingregulationcould affect ethereum and other cryptos during this time. Related altcoins could see a price growth with this upgrade, saysArmando Aguilar, an independent crypto analyst and former digital asset strategist at Fundstrat Global Advisors. Some experts say the update could spur growth for Ethereum afternew blockchain projectsate into its market share over the past six months.

Why is Ethereum Switching Now

Since Ethereum has switched to a proof-of-stake model, mining Ether will no longer be necessary. Due to this, mining machinery will become obsolete, leaving miners with fewer options. Several Ethereum mining groups have tried to boycott the event seeking to abolish the EIP-1559 or have threatened with a new Ethereum fork. Their efforts seem to have been in vain but show the discontent of relevant players in the crypto industry. What will happen to the miners who have been mining Ethereum on a day-to-day basis? As with Bitcoin, there is specific mining equipment designed to mine ETH.

What changes will be needed after The Merge?

Even worse, there could be a “replay attack,” when a hacker fools the blockchain into allowing them to sell the real, valued, proof-of-stake-chain NFT. However, such a situation is only possible when both assets use the same blockchain ID. Thankfully, even the most vocal and popular proof-of-work forking advocates have said their proposed networks would change all chain IDs. There is an element of goodwill involved here, but this is the nature of decentralization. In addition to making Ethereum more environmentally friendly, the developers have plans to make it more scalable too.

Why is the merge such a big deal?

The proof-of-stake concept is fairly technical, and we did our best to break it down in a previous post here. Cryptocurrencies are decentralized, meaning they don’t have the control of a financial institution to verify transactions. This is why many cryptos either use proof-of-stake or proof-of-work to validate crypto transactions. Both are essentially different algorithms that allow users to add transactions and record them on a blockchain, an immutable public ledger. The merge refers to the long-awaited upgrade from a proof-of-work mechanism to the proof-of-stake model.

Countering this risk is something called “slashing,” a process where a validator loses its staked tokens. If a group controls the 51% of staked ETH needed to start messing with the ledger, which would be incredibly costly to achieve, the network can slash their tokens, making the whole process an exercise in futility. This good-behavior incentivization mechanism doesn’t exist in proof-of-work systems because you can’t “slash” someone’s GPU crypto mining equipment. For one, Ethereum is the most-used blockchain and powers Ether, the second-largest cryptocurrency, with a $202 billion market cap.

If you want to interact with mainnet post-Merge, you will need a combination of clients like Besu and Teku, i.e. ConsenSys develops both of these clients in house alongside open source communities and is testing this combo thoroughly for the Merge. At NextAdvisor we’re firm believers in transparency and editorial independence. Editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our partners.

The move was supposed to fix some of Ethereum’s problems by improving transaction speed and making transactions cheaper. However, it appears that the price has dropped since the transition went through on September 15. The Ethereum ETH merger is finally complete as the cryptocurrency switches to the proof-of-stake mechanism for verifying transactions on the blockchain. After the merge, subsequent upgrades will increase the capacity and speed of the network by introducing “shard chains.” These will expand the network to 64 blockchains.

Countries like China and Russia have cracked down on miners who were covertly running operations that were threatening the local energy grids. To prepare for the merge—and any other Ethereum upgrade for that matter—developers rely on Ethereum test networks to practice running code before they deploy it on a mainnet. Testnets are similar enough to the Ethereum mainnet that developers can run tests and check for bugs or security holes to prevent such shortcomings from impacting the main blockchain. But while the merge is bad news for miners, the vast majority of the Ethereum community and beyond see the end of mining as a good thing—helping both the planet and Ethereum’s reputation. “The switch from proof of work to proof of stake reduce overall energy consumption of Ethereum by 99.9% or more,” Ethereum core developer Preston Van Loon told Fortune.

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