Ethereum’s Merge is Complete- Behind the Scenes of a Pivotal Moment in Blockchain | Forbes

Ethereum Core Developer Preston Van Loon shares his experience of working on the blockchain’s long-awaited transition to proof-of-stake, now complete.

At 6:42 A.M. Coordinated Universal Time (2:42 A.M. EDT), the Ethereum blockchain merged with a special-purpose decentralized ledger called the Beacon Chain, concluding its transition to near-carbon neutrality. The shift may not only mute criticism of blockchain energy usage and serve as a boost to the struggling industry, but it could also help take crypto mainstream. Ethereum underpins the vast majority of Web3 applications such as decentralized finance protocols and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), as well as ether, the second-largest cryptocurrency with a $195 billion market value. The token has risen 3% since the Merge was completed but is currently trading at $1,593, down 0.81% over the past 24 hours.

Since its inception, Ethereum has been using the proof-of-work system for verifying transactions. Popularized by bitcoin, proof-of-work relies on operators of powerful computers, known as miners, that validate each new block of transactions added to the chain by solving complex math puzzles and get rewarded for the effort in the blockchain’s cryptocurrency. The approach has drawn widespread criticism from crypto-skeptics and environmentalists because of its immense energy usage—Ethereum’s carbon footprint has been compared to that of Finland.

Starting today, Ethereum will use an alternative mechanism called proof-of-stake. The switch has been part of the project’s roadmap since early days but faced repeated delays as the proof-of-stake technology evolved. Miners are now replaced with validators, who pledge, or stake, ether tokens as collateral to verify transactions and accrue interest on the staked assets as a reward. As a result, the network’s energy usage should drop by more than 99%, according to the Ethereum Foundation.