What is The Ethereum Merge?

Summary of The Ethereum Merge

  • The Merge was the Ethereum blockchain's transition from a mining-based proof-of-work (PoW) blockchain to a more energy efficient, scalable proof-of-stake (PoS) system
  • The Merge laid the technical foundation for future scalability improvements on the Ethereum blockchain
  • ETH holders did not need to take any action before, during or after The Merge took place
infographic explaining the Ethereum Merge

Ethereum Merge explained

The Merge represented a significant update to Ethereum’s blockchain consensus mechanism.

In short, the transition saw Ethereum shift from a mining-based proof-of-work (PoW) blockchain to a more energy-efficient, scalable proof-of-stake (PoS) system. This was achieved by joining Ethereum’s mainnet with its PoS-based system, referred to as the Beacon Chain.

Ethereum, the industry’s second-largest cryptocurrency project by market cap, provides infrastructure for blockchain developers to build and deploy their own decentralized applications (dApps) and cryptoassets.

Prior to The Merge, transactions sent over the Ethereum network were verified and added to its blockchain via a PoW system. PoW involves cryptocurrency miners — who compete to verify transactions on the network — racing to generate a solution to a difficult (and therefore energy-intensive) mathematical puzzle. You can learn more about proof-of-work mining in our Learn Center article What is Bitcoin Mining?

After The Merge, Ethereum’s miners were replaced by stakers, who lock up ETH for the right to validate transactions. In doing so, The Merge was expected to reduce energy usage on the network by more than 99.5%.

Additionally, The Merge laid the foundation for future upgrades planned for Ethereum. Proposed network scalability improvements, like sharding, can only work under a PoS consensus model.

Sharding is a technique of splitting a blockchain into smaller, independent shard chains in order to reduce network congestion and increase transaction throughput. The implementation of sharding is planned during subsequent phases of Ethereum’s ongoing development roadmap.

Infographic explaining the Ethereum Merge


What you need to know about The Merge:

Ahead of The Merge, there was a great deal of confusion as to what exactly the transition to PoS entailed and what it meant for the future of Ethereum and its native token.

We’ve prepared this FAQ section to answer the most common questions asked by the Ethereum community.

User outcomes

  1. When was The Merge scheduled to take place?

  2. What happens to my ETH after The Merge?

  3. What did ETH holders need to do to prepare for The Merge?

  4. Did I need to update my wallet or use a new wallet post-Merge?

  5. Is Ethereum and Ethereum 2.0 the same thing?

  6. Did The Merge affect my NFTs?

  7. Did The Merge affect my crypto locked in DeFi protocols?

  8. Can I still run an ETH miner?

  9. Did the Ethereum network go offline during The Merge?

  10. Did The Merge allow me to to unstake my ETH?

  11. Did The Merge have any impact on Ethereum Classic?

Technical factors (Network)

  1. What is the Beacon Chain?

  2. What is staking?

  3. How is staking different from mining?

  4. What exactly happened during The Merge?

  5. Are ETH transactions processed faster after The Merge?

  6. Did The Merge reduce gas fees?

  7. Did The Merge update include sharding?

  8. How did The Merge impact Ethereum’s energy usage?

Market factors

  1. Was there a chance forked tokens might be created during The Merge?

  2. Was a new Ethereum token created post-Merge?

  3. Did The Merge impact NFTs, DeFi and other Ethereum-based assets/services?

  4. Did the Ethereum blockchain experience a hard fork ahead of The Merge?

Ethereum development

  1. What’s next on the Ethereum roadmap after The Merge?

  2. What does ETH 1.0 and ETH 2.0 now mean?

  3. What happened to ETH miners after The Merge?

  4. What do I need to know about the Shanghai upgrade?

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