What is The Merge, and What Does It Mean For You?
All year long, there has been a lot of chatter about “the Merge,” which is “the most significant upgrade in the history of Ethereum,” according to Ethereum.org. The Merge has been promised for late 2022, but until recently, there was no precise date scheduled for it to take place. Now, there is. The Merge is coming on September 19th, 2022.
You probably have a lot of questions about The Merge, also known as “Ethereum 2.0.” In this post, we will go over the basics with you so you understand exactly how Ethereum is going to transform starting on September 19th.
What is the Merge?
The Merge is the switch from ETH1 to ETH2. To be clear, ETH2 is the same ETH you have now, but how it functions under the hood will be much more efficient.
Indeed, confusion in this area is why Ethereum no longer references “ETH1” vs. “ETH2” as much as they used to. Instead, they talk about the Execution Layer and the Beacon Chain.
Currently, the Ethereum Network relies on proof of work (PoW) for consensus. Following September’s huge overhaul, Ethereum will rely on proof of stake (PoS) instead.
The reason this update is referred to as “The Merge” is that it entails merging Ethereum (ETH1/Execution Layer) with the Beacon Chain (ETH2/Consensus Layer). When Ethereum drops PoW, there will be no further need for these layers to run in parallel.
- Key Point:
On September 19th, The Merge will result in Ethereum switching from proof of work to proof of stake.
Proof of Work vs. Proof of Stake
Proof of what? If you do not have a clue what we are talking about with proof of work vs. proof-of-stake, here is the skinny.
Proof of work and proof of stake are both methods of validation on crypto networks.
Proof of work is the old-fashioned method that involves mining. Those who take part receive an arbitrary mathematical puzzle to solve. Whoever does so first gets to add the next blockchain block and receive a reward.
As you might guess, a lot of computing power is expended in solving these puzzles. It is not an energy-efficient system.
By contrast, proof of stake gets one around this requirement entirely.
Those who participate in proof of stake lock their coins in the network, which is referred to as “staking” them.
The system then randomly selects from the pool of participants to determine who gets to add the next block to the blockchain.
Nobody who stakes their coins has to solve any puzzles or expend resources. In fact, they do not need to do anything at all.
Random selection does result in a reward for a participant. If you want to boost your chances of selection, you can increase your stake size.
- Key Point:
Proof of stake is a more efficient way to validate transactions on the chain.
The Merge Will Make ETH a Much More Sustainable Crypto
The significance of The Merge cannot be overstated. It is a turning point for crypto and signifies the start of a new era.
Obviously, the move from ETH to ETH2 is not going to instantly transform the entire world of crypt overnight. But Ethereum is one of the most prominent crypto networks, so the impact will be massive.
Ethereum.org states that after the Merge, Ethereum’s energy consumption will drop by an astonishing 99.95%.
A lot of people who have yet to adopt cryptocurrencies are avoiding them because they know that crypto on the whole has been terrible for the environment.
As Columbia Climate School says, “One study warned that Bitcoin could push global warming beyond 2°C. Another estimated that bitcoin mining in China alone could generate 130 million metric tons of CO2 by 2024.”
Columbia Climate School also says, “The average NFT generates 440 pounds of carbon—the equivalent of driving 500 miles in a gas-powered car—producing emissions 10 times higher than the average Ethereum transaction.”
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As we explained here, crypto can be green. So many critics of crypto fail to understand that this technology is at an early stage, and is evolving rapidly. The crypto of tomorrow is not going to devastate the planet like the crypto of today.
After The Merge, not only will ETH be far more eco-friendly, but non-fungible tokens (NFTs) will be too.
NFTs have been extremely divisive because of their negative environmental impact.
But as the Ethereum Network powers the majority of NFT transactions, NFTs following The Merge will be a whole different ballgame.
So, if you have been on the fence about participating in ETH and NFTs, mark your calendar for September 19th. Everything will change.
- Key Point:
After The Merge, Ethereum will use 99.95% less energy, making for a more sustainable future. This should also improve the situation with NFTs.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Merge
That concludes our discussion of The Merge. Visit Ethereum.org for more information, or browse our site for recommendations for exchanges, wallets and more. Still have questions about The Merge? Take a look at our FAQ below.
- Q: How do I prepare for The Merge?
A: If you are holding ETH now, you may be concerned about what will happen to it after The Merge.
You do not need to worry about it. The ETH that is in your wallet going into The Merge will still be there once The Merge is complete. The update is automatic, and you do not need to do anything to protect your assets.
Again, Ethereum has largely stopped calling the post-Merge token “ETH2” because users were thinking that it would be a whole new token. A lot of these folks assumed they needed to do something to convert their ETH into ETH2, or they would lose it.
This is not the case. And if you run into someone saying that you do need to do this and they can help you, run the other way. They are trying to con you into transferring your ETH to them!
Key Point: You do not have to upgrade or protect your ETH in preparation for The Merge. Just leave it alone. It will be fine.
- Q: Is now the time to invest in ETH?
A: The Motley Fool writes, “Investors will likely ‘buy the rumor, sell the news.’ In other words, they will buy Ethereum heading into the Merge, wait for the price to increase, and then begin taking profits after the Merge actually takes place. This is what happens in the stock market all the time.”
The Motley Fool explains that there will likely be “problems” and “a projected months-long cleanup period” following the major upgrade. So, as those issues crop up, those might be sell points for some investors.
The same publication also has written up a piece about whether it makes sense to purchase ETH before or after The Merge.
In that piece, Anders Bylund suggests that ETH is a good investment in general, “But the token doesn’t always rise on the basis of platform upgrades. In fact, I see more examples of Ethereum prices taking a temporary haircut around its technology updates. It’s hit and miss, and not something over which you should lose any sleep.”
Of course, there are different points of view out there and different predictions about how the future could unfold for ETH.
Key Point: Do your own in-depth research before making any investment decisions, and remember that nothing is guaranteed in the crypto markets.
- Q: What is going to happen to gas fees after The Merge?
A: Since The Merge is such great news for energy efficiency and the environment, you might assume that the increased efficiency will also result in lower gas fees.
Alas, the capacity of the network itself is not increasing. That means that there will be no direct, immediate reduction in gas fees as a result of The Merge.
But the good news is that The Merge lays some necessary groundwork for future improvements that could reduce gas fees.
Ethereum.org explains, “With a rollup-centric roadmap, efforts are being focused on scaling user activity at layer 2, while enabling layer 1 Mainnet as a secure decentralized settlement layer optimized for rollup data storage to help make rollup transactions exponentially cheaper. The transition to proof-of-stake is a critical precursor to realizing this.”
Key Point: The Merge will not reduce gas fees, but it will get us one step closer to doing so.
- Q: Will transaction speeds improve following The Merge?
A: No, transaction fees will not improve after The Merge. This may surprise you, but Ethereum.org says there will be no more than “slight changes.” Ethereum.org states, “On proof-of-stake blocks will be produced ~10% more frequently than on proof-of-work. This is a fairly insignificant change and is unlikely to be noticed by users.”
Key Point: You will likely not notice transaction speeds reducing after The Merge.
- Q: Will The Merge result in any downtime?
A: No, you will be pleased to hear that there will be no downtime as a result of The Merge. The upgrade will be seamless.
Key Point: You can expect to go about your business as usual during The Merge and after.
- Q: What are the other benefits of The Merge?
A: While The Merge will make Ethereum far more sustainable than it is now, there will be other advantages as well. Ethereum transactions will become more secure. The network will also be more scalable.
Key Point: The Merge is a game-changer in multiple ways for Ethereum and its users.
Those of you that are thinking of investing in some Ethereum may be wondering if this is the right time. Honestly, we can’t answer that.
Investing in crypto is just like investing in anything else. You’ve got to do your own homework and decide if it’s for you!
The main thing that you should be taking from all of this is the fact that it doesn’t matter if you’re just getting into the crypto game or if you’re well-seasoned. The Merge may sound scary, amazing, fantastic, or downright terrifying, but it’s none of those. The reality is that if not for all the talk of it, the average person wouldn’t have even known it had happened!
However, always make sure that you know what you’re getting into. Invest what you can afford.
Us? We’re in! We’re buying some more right now! Take a look at this link here to get an idea of the resources I personally use!