The much-awaited overhaul of Ethereum known as the Merge has finally arrived to take the digital machinery at the core of the second-largest cryptocurrency to a vastly more energy-efficient system.
This is coming after years of development and delay.
The idea was there from the start that Ethereum would eventually make the switch to proof-of-stake. But the transition was a complicated technical effort – an endeavor so risky that many doubted it would happen at all.
“The metaphor that I use is this idea of switching out an engine from a running car,” said Justin Drake, a researcher at the non-profit Ethereum Foundation who spoke to CoinDesk before the Merge happened. “I like to think of it as kind of like the switch from gasoline to electric.”
“There’s a part of me which hasn’t completely realized that this is actually happening,” Drake said.
“I’m somewhat in denial, you know, because I’ve trained myself to just expect it to happen in the future.”
According to Ethereum’s developers, the upgrade will make the network – which houses a $60 billion ecosystem of cryptocurrency exchanges, lending companies, non-fungible token (NFT) marketplaces and other apps – more secure and scalable.
When the Merge officially took off, over 41,000 people were tuned in on YouTube to an “Ethereum Mainnet Merge Viewing Party.” After about 15 long minutes, the Merge officially got finalized, and could officially be called a success.