The Merge is (Almost) Here

May 4, 2023

Ethereum maximalists are calling the upcoming ‘Merge’ the biggest event in Crypto history, which people are hoping might be the starting point for “the flippening”, or a time when Ethereum surpasses Bitcoin (BTC) by market cap.

What is the ETH merger exactly? A Short Summary:

  • Ethereum is switching its transaction verification system from Proof-of-Work (PoW) to a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus mechanism. This change will, according to Ethereum’s website, reduce Ethereum’s carbon emissions by 99% instantly. This makes it a very strong candidate for institutional investors like Tesla, who in the past sold their Bitcoin position over concerns about energy use.
  • This change will at the same time drastically change ETH’s tokenomics; the merge will mark a 90% drop in the annual ETH issuance, which means ETH’s overall supply will drastically decrease and cause a deflationary environment.
  • The Merge sets the stage for future scaling upgrades including ‘sharding’, which will look to split the network into smaller partitions.

Miners of Ethereum who have invested huge sums of money in hardware are naturally very upset about this. They are calling for a fork that will retain the PoW mechanism of the blockchain. This fork is similar to the forking event back in 2016, which created Ethereum Classic(ETC).

When is the ETH Merge Happening Exactly?

From a technical point of view the Merge will be split into two stages:

  • The first stage is being dubbed the Bellatrix upgrade, which has already happened and occurred at epoch 144896 or on the 6th September 2022 at 11:34:47 UTC. This upgrade brought Ethereum’s consensus layer (the Beacon chain) into a state ready to merge. The Bellatrix upgrade has been widely report as successful.
  • The second stage of the Merge has been dubbed the Paris upgrade. The upgrade will automatically trigger when TTD reaches 58,750,000,000,000,000,000,000. Terminal Total Difficulty (TTD) specifies the final, terminal Proof of Work block, after which the Proof of Stake consensus (implemented in the Beacon Chain) takes over.
The Merge will see the Beacon chain merge the existing PoW chain to form the new PoS chain.

How will the Merge Affect ERC-20 tokens?

Ethereum.org are advising users that nothing needs to be done to ETH and ERC-20 Tokens, as the merge is fully automated. ‘Any funds held in your wallet before the merge will be accessible after the merge.’

Hardware company Ledger are have also stated; ‘It’s completely safe to keep your ETH, NFTs and ERC20 tokens in your Ledger Ethereum account during and after the Merge.’. And also that, ‘it’s recommended to avoid high-value transactions and NFT transfers during the Merge.’

How are the world’s leading exchanges handling the Merge?

Kraken

The ticker ETH will represent the token on the updated PoS Ethereum chain post-merge. Kraken will subject any newly forked token(s) to the same strict review process that they follow before making any token available for trading.

Binance

Will place a temporary pause on ETH deposits, withdrawals, mining service and borrowing. If ETH forks, the ETH ticker will refer to the upgraded PoS chain. The forked token would have to go through Binance’s listing process.

Bitfinex

Will also temporary pause all ETH and ERC-20 token withdrawals and deposits; “The ticker for ETH Proof of Stake will remain as ETH. Any new tokens as a result of a fork will take a new ticker.

Coinbase

During the Merge, Coinbase will briefly pause new Ethereum (ETH) and ERC-20 token deposits and withdrawals as a precautionary measure. Coinbase have issued a message to users that ‘your assets will be safe and secure during this period and no action is required to upgrade on your part.’

Coinbase Prime / Coinbase Exchange customers should initiate deposits / withdrawals prior to the date of the merge or after the merge completes.

Several prominent exchanges have indicated their support for ETH PoW (ETHW), including BitMEX, Bitrue, Huobi and Poloniex.

It must be stated that ETHW is essentially vapourware at this point — IOUs with no value of their own, acting as a theoretical traders play on if Ethereum miners do decide to fork away from the main chain during the Merge.

Concerns over the Merge

In a lengthy Twitter thread, Grayscale has voiced its concerns over what might happen should a PoW fork occur and how it could add challenges to developers and market participants; ‘A PoW fork of the current Ethereum network would bring duplicate instances of all of this and more, which could present meaningful challenges to developers and market participants, and an existential risk to DeFi on the new chain.’

It is however likely that Ethereum developers have already accounted for such potential challenges in the years and months leading up to the Merge.

Closing Thoughts

We here at OTC Supply support the merge, and trust that the merge will be a smooth transition to PoS. That being said, we highly recommend that you temporarily pause all ETH and ERC-20 related transactions until after the merge has been successful.

The merge will be the 21st upgrade made on the ETH network, and quite possibly the biggest one ever. Once the merge is successful, the network will be in a good position to take on larger transaction loads with less environmental impact and without compromising its security.

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