The moment finally arrived in the final minutes before midnight on the West Coast on Wednesday. After years of delays, debates and frenzied experiments, popular cryptocurrency platform Ethereum has completed its long-awaited software update known as Merge, moving to a more environmentally sustainable framework. From the report: Ethereum is arguably the most important platform in the crypto industry, a layer of software infrastructure that underpins thousands of applications that handle more than $50 billion worth of customer funds. The update is expected to reduce Ethereum’s energy consumption and pave the way for future improvements that will make the platform easier and cheaper to use.
The celebration erupted live on YouTube, where the engineers and researchers who worked on Merge came together to mark the milestone. It was a rare moment of joy in a bleak year for crypto, which saw a devastating market crash drain nearly $1 trillion from the industry, forcing some prominent crypto companies into bankruptcy. […] The technical details of Merge are staggeringly complex. But ultimately, the process boils down to changing the way cryptocurrency transactions are verified.
In traditional finance, the exchange of funds involves an intermediary, such as a bank, that checks whether one entity has enough money to make a payment to another. Crypto was designed to eliminate such financial gatekeepers. Therefore, early cryptoengineers had to develop an alternative system to ensure that users would have the funds they claimed to have. Their solution was called “proof of work”. In this system, powerful computers run software that rapidly solves complex tasks, verifying transactions as they go. The system is commonly known as “mining” because computers earn payments in cryptocurrency as a reward for the verification service.