The Ethereum blockchain is by far the most popular blockchain and rightfully so with its millions of users and billions in transaction volume each day. Built to support various types of apps for art, games, social media and just about anything else you can imagine. The Ethereum Blockchain played a key role in the explosion of popularity for non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and decentralized apps. While Ethereum’s value has exploded due to the expansion of these use cases, there have been some worries about energy usage and high gas costs brought on by increased network activity.
The Merge POW-> POS
The fundamental restructure with Ethereum’s switch is from a Proof of Work to a Proof of Stake consensus method. In contrast to PoW techniques, which require miners to solve cryptographic puzzles in order to validate transactions, PoS mechanisms intrinsically provide an incentive for validators to keep and stake tokens. By staking ETH, you can earn rewards from validating transactions. This introduces a positive, more sustainable approach for the most popular blockchain. By transitioning away from the energy-intensive equipment required for PoW mining, ETH will dramatically reduce its ecosystem’s energy requirements by 99.98%.
Ethereum will be able to process somewhere between 20,000 and 100,000 transactions per second using Proof-of-Stake. The speed improvement from the current rate of 10–20 transactions per second is up to 999,900%. These exponential speed increases will assist in reducing network congestion (bottlenecks) and gas prices. The Merge will unlock scalability and performance while still allowing ETH to operate as one of the largest and most secure network in the world.
In recent years, Ethereum has faced harsh criticism for its electricity demand and carbon emissions. In the last year alone, a number of brands have introduced NFT-related initiatives, only to quickly cancel them in response to consumer backlash— most concerned with the environmental impact.
In November 2021, The founder and CEO of Discord, Jason Citron announced the shift in policy just a few days after hinting at an NFT update to halting all current plans for NFT integration, following widespread community backlash as many users started canceling their Nitro subscriptions. Since it is expected that these online communities will continue to evolve, Citron’s comment does not preclude NFT inclusion in the future. With the Merge, brands might describe how the new Ethereum-based NFTs emit less carbon-heavy experience than older ones to encourage new engagement from customers. Web3 activations will become a seamless part of long-term marketing campaigns, as brands try to create unique user experiences and new products.
Merge + Surge + Verge + Purge + Splurge
After the September deadline, Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of ETH, spoke about the four stages of Ethereum’s roadmap.
The Surge – Starting sometime in 2023, Ethereum will introduce sharding, a scaling solution which will further enable cheap layer-2 blockchains, lower the cost of rollups or bundled transactions, and make it easier for users to operate nodes that secure the Ethereum network.
The Verge- Introduces Verkle trees as an upgrade to Merkle Proofs. This will optimize storage and help reduce node size on the Ethereum blockchain
The Purge- Aim to improve network congestion by reducing the hard drive space needed by validators
The Splurge-which will include “all the other stuff”- smaller enhancements to maintain and ensure ETH network performance.