Ethereum successfully transitions to proof-of-stake post Merge
After months of anticipation and years of planning, the Ethereum blockchain’s Merge event ends, ushering the network into a new proof-of-stake (PoS) era.
The final stages of the Merge kicked off at 6:43 am UTC (2:43 am ET) on Thursday, September 15, and after approximately thirteen minutes, developers and researchers confirmed the project’s success as new Ethereum blocks were being produced and finalised.
This process was automatically triggered when Ethereum’s mainnet hit a Total Terminal Difficulty of 58,750,000,000T – the point where new ETH could no longer be mined.
While the Merge was underway, major crypto exchanges paused the trading of Ethereum and other related tokens on their platforms as a precaution. Although, business continued as normal soon enough.
Ethereum’s migration to PoS means that new ETH is generated by individuals and entities pledging large amounts of pre-existing ETH rather than mining which uses vast amounts of computing power.
The new protocol is astronomically more energy-efficient as it reportedly uses 1/1000th of the energy used by Ethereum’s former proof-of-work.
The Merge’s success was widely celebrated on Twitter, with even Vitalik Buterin tweeting a congratulatory message which read, 'Happy Merge all. This is a big moment for the Ethereum ecosystem. Everyone who helped make the Merge happen should feel very proud today.'
While the proof-of-stake makes the Ethereum network faster and more scalable, one thing it does not do is lower gas fees. Experts have said it is a change in the consensus mechanism – expected to be implemented in 2023 updates - rather than this transition that would reduce transaction fees.
It is said that the PoS will cause the daily mining of new ETH to drop by 90%, meaning the number of ether mined per day will reduce from 13,000 to about 1,600 per day.
As it stands, the potential risks post-Merge include unforeseen technical problems or a hike in gas fees. The network seems to have it under control, evidenced by a $1 million incentive for individuals who are able to spot issues.
Not everyone is on board with Ethereum’s switch to PoS, though. Most miners opposed to the Merge are switching to ETHW, an Ethereum network fork that still uses proof-of-work.
Overall, the Merge is sure to be a historic milestone within the Ethereum ecosystem and likely all of crypto.
Photo: Twitter @Beeple