After a months-long wait since the Merge, Ethereum developers have set a target date for the network’s highly anticipated Shanghai hard fork.
The upgrade will enable the network’s stakers to withdraw their locked Ether (ETH) for the first time since December 2020.
Withdrawing Staked ETH
During a recorded call among core developers on Thursday, devs set April 12 as their target date for “Shapella” – the dual upgrade enabling ETH withdrawals. Shapella is a combination of the words Shanghai and Capella, changes to Ethereum’s execution and consensus layer respectively.
Once devs vote on and confirm the upgrade via GitHub, April 12 will be set in stone – a month’s delay from their initial target date of March 2023. To be precise, popular developer Tim Beiko tweeted on Thursday that the fork would occur at block 6209536, which will arrive at 10:27:35 PM UTC on April 12.
This follows several successful simulation upgrades across Ethereum’s testnets, including its Goerli testnet on Tuesday. Things ran smoothly besides some issues surrounding validators who were late to upgrade – problems that Beiko claimed are not likely to repeat on the mainnet.
Again, this is something that might be worse on Goerli than mainnet, as it’s more likely those nodes are being run with less resources than mainnet ones.
— timbeiko.eth (@TimBeiko) March 14, 2023
Ethereum’s move to proof of stake in September allowed ETH owners to begin earning yield on their holdings, effectively producing 4% yield at writing time.
It also completely obsoleted the network’s mining industry, incentivizing relevant businesses to transfer their GPU processing power to other proof-of-work chains. This has substantially reduced Ethereum’s energy footprint, which its neighbor network Bitcoin is often scrutinized for.
There are currently 17.6 million ETH locked within the network’s staking contract. That’s roughly 14.3% of the total supply, creating a $29.4 billion wall of economic security against a potential 51% attack.
While staking requires a minimum of 32 ETH for individuals, small retail holders can fractional amounts of ETH through centralized staking services. Coinbase, which offers such a service, predicted on Wednesday that its platform will experience high demand for “unstaking” after the upgrade next month.
Has the Merge Backfired?
While the Merge helped Ethereum escape the critical gaze of environmentally conscious politicians, it may have given market regulators more reason to clamp down on the crypto heavyweight.
Last week, New York Attorney General Letitia James sued KuCoin for allegedly listing securities on its platform – one of which, it claimed, is ETH.
Echoing previous claims from Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chairman Gary Gensler, James argued that transitioning to proof of stake gave ETH more security-like properties.
“The shift to proof-of-stake significantly impacted the core functionality and incentives for owning ETH, because ETH holders now can profit merely by participating in staking,” she stated in a legal filing.
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