After years of research and delay, the massive Ethereum upgrade known as the Merge has finally taken place, transferring the digital machinery at the center of the second-largest cryptocurrency by market value to a system that uses much less energy. It was no easy task to switch from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake, two different ways to operate a blockchain. Before the Merge took place, Justin Drake, a researcher at the nonprofit Ethereum Foundation, told CoinDesk, “The metaphor that I use is this idea of switching out an engine from a running car.”
The potential reward is tremendous. Now, Ethereum should use 99.9% less energy. The network, which supports a $60 billion ecosystem of cryptocurrency exchanges, lending organizations, non-fungible token (NFT) markets, and other apps, will become more secure and scalable, according to Ethereum’s creators.
More than 41,000 people were watching the “Ethereum Mainnet Merge Viewing Party” on YouTube when the Merge started. They waited as the numbers poured in, showing that Ethereum’s fundamental mechanisms had held up. The Merge finally concluded after roughly 15 arduous minutes, at which point it was deemed successful. Behind the Merge, the price of ETH, the second-largest cryptocurrency after bitcoin (BTC) with a current market value of nearly $200 billion, was basically unchanged.
Crypto investors, enthusiasts, and skeptics have eagerly watched the update, speculating how it could affect the larger blockchain sector. Dallas Mavericks owner and investor Mark Cuban said he would be “watching [the Merge] with curiosity like everyone else.” He noted that it would make ETH, the network’s native coin, deflationary.
It was anticipated that Ethereum would ultimately convert to proof-of-stake from the beginning. However, the shift required a complex technological effort, so dangerous that many questioned whether it would succeed.