While Ethereum staking is on the rise, it brings with it the challenge of increased centralization. Even Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin acknowledges this as a core issue, suggesting that a comprehensive solution may be decades away.
The growth in Ethereum staking has surged since the Merge update.
But this has led to two issues: the network becoming more centralized and people earning less from staking.
The team at JPMorgan, headed by top executive Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, cautioned investors about these rising concerns related to Ethereum’s increasing centralization.
The leading five easy-staying services—Lido, Coinbase, Figment, Binance, and Kraken—hold more than half of all staked Ethereum.
According to Dune Analytics, over 31% of all ETH staked belong to the Lido pool.
While people in the crypto world have viewed Lido as a better option than centralized services like Coinbase or Binance, the reality is different.
Even decentralized platforms like Lido still have a lot of control concentrated in a few hands. For example, one Lido node operator alone manages over 7,000 sets of validators, holding 230,000 Ether.
This concentration of power occurs because Lido’s decision-making is controlled by a small number of wallet addresses in their decentralized organization, known as a DAO.
While there was a general market proposal to limit each staking service to no more than 22%, Lido’s DAO voted against it in June 2023. In general, a DAO is a self-governing platform, but in this case, its decision to not limit its Ether staking is making the entire Ethereum ecosystem more centralized and, thus, more vulnerable.
Having too much control in one place poses a risk to the Ethereum network. A small group of major stakeholders or node operators could become a weak point in the system, or even collaborate to gain unfair advantages.
In addition to concerns about centralization, the Ethereum network has also seen staking yields go down since the big updates like the Merge and Shanghai.
The average block rewards have dropped from 4.3% to 3.5%, and overall staking yields have gone from 7.3% to around 5.5%.
It’s not just JPMorgan ringing the alarm bells about Ethereum’s growing centralization after the Merge, which was launched on September 15, 2022. This update is viewed as a stumbling block to Ethereum’s goal of being fully decentralized, and it has also led to reduced earnings from staking.
Even Ethereum’s co-founder, Vitalik Buterin, acknowledges the issue. In September 2023, he admitted that tackling the problem of node centralization in Ethereum is a big challenge, and finding an ideal solution could take up to two more decades.
Simplify node operations on Ethereum
Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin says that making it simpler and less expensive to operate nodes is crucial for addressing the Ethereum network’s centralization issue.
Right now, most of the nearly 6,000 active Ethereum nodes are hosted by centralized services. The top service used it Amazon Web Services, posing a vulnerability for the network.
While speaking at Korea Blockchain Week, Buterin identified six critical challenges to overcome to ensure Ethereum stays decentralized over time.
One major aspect is making it technically easier for people to operate nodes. “Statelessness is a key technology to make this possible,” he added.
As of now, running a node requires hundreds of gigabytes of data storage.
With stateless clients, however, you could operate a node without needing almost any storage space at all. This statelessness means eliminating the need for centralized services to verify network activities.
According to the Ethereum Foundation, true decentralization can only happen when running an Ethereum node becomes accessible and affordable.
Buterin emphasized that statelessness is a significant part of Ethereum’s future plans. Major progress towards this goal is expected in upcoming phases called “The Verge” and “The Purge.”
He mentioned that the long-term vision is to have fully verified Ethereum nodes that are so streamlined you could literally run one on your phone.
Well, the Ethereum community has different opinions on that.
One expert named Mippo commented at the end of August that the 22% self-limit rule isn’t really about staying true to Ethereum’s ideals, which are about open access and innovation for everyone.
Mippo thinks that those advocating for the self-limit would probably not stick to it if they were in the dominant position like Lido Finance. In his view, everyone is just acting in their own best interest.
Another person argued that user-friendly services shouldn’t be criticised as greedy.
On the flip side, some people are really concerned that a few big companies could end up controlling too much of the Ethereum network. They see Lido’s large market share as a problem, even calling it “selfish and disgusting.”
Why is Lido Finance the top staker on Ethereum?
Lido ticks all the boxes when it comes to staking services.
They support multiple types of digital money and make it super easy for anyone to use their platform.
Their fees are fair, and they even offer nice rewards if you refer people to their service. On top of that, they make a lot of different cryptocurrencies more available for trading and are backed by some big names in the decentralised finance world.
What’s cool is that when you stake your digital tokens with Lido, you get back tokens that are tied to the value of what you staked. You can then use these for more ways to earn money in the DeFi world.
Lido has become a top pick for people looking to stake their digital assets thanks to some standout features.
First off, staking is a breeze; you can earn daily rewards by simply staking your tokens, and there’s no minimum amount you need to start.
Want to make even more from your tokens?
Lido allows you to use them for things like loans, yield farming, and other money-making activities. This can give your earnings a nice boost.
They also have their own digital token, called LDO, that you can trade on popular exchanges like SushiSwap, Uniswap, and many more.
When it comes to security, you can rest assured. Lido’s smart contracts have been thoroughly checked by reputable firms like Quantstamp and Sigma Prime.
Although Lido doesn’t offer its own wallet, you can still use popular ones like TrustWallet and MetaMask to manage your assets.
Following numerous postponements, Ethereum validators are now able to retrieve their staked Ether and associated rewards from the Ethereum mainnet. The Shapella hard fork has been successfully implemented on the Ethereum mainnet, enabling validators to withdraw their staked Ether from the Beacon Chain.
The highly anticipated Shapella update on Ethereum has been launched, introducing the much-awaited new feature, the Ether unstaking. The Ethereum community has expressed various reactions to the latest update in the ecosystem. The term “Shapella” is a combination of “Shanghai” and “Capella,” referring to simultaneous upgrades. This hard fork marks a significant milestone in Ethereum’s development, generating excitement among community members for the network’s future.
The highly anticipated update occurred at 10:27 pm UTC on April 12, during epoch number 194,048. In the initial hour following the hard fork, Ethereum block explorer beaconchai.in reported that 12,859 Ether were released through 4,333 withdrawals.
Ether staking rewards are withdrawn
At present, approximately 44% of validators, equating to 248,043 out of 559,549 active validators, have the option to request a partial or complete withdrawal.
Most of the current withdrawals range from 2.8 to 3.2 ETH, indicating that primarily staking rewards are being withdrawn at this time. Data from Rated Network Explorer reveals that just before the Shapella hard fork was implemented, 3,996 validators joined the exit queue.
Based on data from blockchain analytics company Nansen, crypto exchange Huobi possesses the most significant portion of withdrawable Ether at 30%. The decentralized autonomous organization PieDAO follows with a 17.7% share.
Nansen data indicates that 284,622 Ether from 7,948 validators are awaiting complete withdrawal. The price of Ether experienced minimal fluctuations during the first hour after the hard fork, as forecasted in an April 11 report by blockchain intelligence platform Glassnode. In theory, the hard fork could unlock 18.1 million Ether on the Beacon Chain, which is equivalent to over $34.8 billion.
However, the Ethereum Foundation has implemented several measures to prevent a sudden influx of ETH into the market. Glassnode’s report projected that less than 1% of the total amount would be released during the first week, and the 12,859 Ether unlocked within the first-hour accounts for a mere 0.07% of the total Ether staked on the Beacon Chain.
As for the market, the predictions are optimistic. The capacity of Ether to surpass resistance levels has led some analysts to predict a $3,000 price target in Q2 2023. Data from analytics provider Santiment reveals that whale accumulation remains robust, increasing by 0.5% in March.
This positive buying activity could support on-chain data indicating that Ether sell pressure following the Shanghai hard fork will be insignificant.
Ethereum Investment Proposal EIP-4895 facilitated the transfer of staked Ether from the Beacon Chain to the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). This is known as the execution layer, thereby enabling withdrawals. This update on the Ethereum blockchain represents the most substantial upgrade since the Merge on September 15 and brings Ethereum one step closer to achieving a fully operational proof-of-stake system.
The community celebrates the Ethereum Shapella upgrade
During the Shapella watch party organized by the Ethereum Foundation team, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin expressed that the network is currently in a “really good place.” He said the most challenging and rapid aspects of the Ethereum protocol’s transition have essentially concluded. There are still substantial tasks to be accomplished, but they can proceed at a more relaxed pace.
In celebration of the new update, crypto singer Jonathan Mann performed a song at the Shapella watch party.
As some community members celebrated the event, others focused on the network’s future prospects. Ethereum community member Anthony Sassano highlighted the next significant feature, EIP-4844, which aims to improve the scalability of rollups on Ethereum.
The Shapella update is expected to attract more institutional investors to Ethereum.
The upgrade from a proof-of-work (PoW) to a proof-of-stake (PoS) blockchain is now completed. What does this mean for the first programmable blockchain?
On September 15, 2022, after years of development, Ethereum’s developers completed the Merge – the upgrade from a proof-of-work (PoW) to a proof-of-stake (PoS) blockchain. The PoS network is expected to power a more energy-efficient blockchain while reducing transaction fees and improving scalability.
Potentially, the payoff could be huge. Ethereum should now use 99.9% less energy. According to one estimate, Ethereum’s energy consumption dropped from 77.77 TWh on September 14 to 0.01 TWh on September 16, 2022.
The developers of Ethereum claim that the upgrade will bring the network, which houses many cryptocurrency tokens, to a more scalable and secure state. Ethereum’s TVL (Total Value Locked) is at about $30 billion, considering all its DeFi apps – DEXs, lending protocols, NFT marketplaces, and other apps.
The Ethereum Merge was completed at 7 a.m. UTC. However, the price of Ether (ETH) started to slowly decrease, dropping by 12% on the first day after the Merge. Ether’s price started a downtrend, and many investors are bearish.
PoS Ethereum = no more ETH miners
In 2008, when Bitcoin was created, it introduced the concept of a decentralized ledger – a single immutable record that computers all over the globe could access and trust without intermediaries.
In 2015, Ethereum was introduced. It expanded on the core concepts of Bitcoin’s blockchain by adding smart contracts. These smart contracts are bits of code that use the blockchain to record data onto its network and trigger automated transactions when certain pre-defined conditions are met. This innovation was key to decentralized financing (DeFi) and NFTs, which were the major catalysts for the recent crypto boom.
On Ethereum’s proof-of-work (PoW) network, crypto miners were responsible for verifying transactions and adding new blocks to the blockchain in exchange for rewards paid in ETH. These blockchain operations required miners to invest in expensive hardware equipment that was capable of solving the required cryptographic puzzles – hence the intensive energy consumption of the network.
Ethereum miners were often organized in farms, which were actually huge buildings filled with mining equipment, similar to data centers, which were a huge strain on any energy network.
The new proof-of-stake system for Ethereum, which is a blockchain-based cryptocurrency, completely eliminates mining.
Miners are now replaced by validators. To become an Ethereum Validator, you must stake 32 ETH on the network. This means that maintaining Ethereum’s network security will not rely anymore on an energy-intensive computer network but the value of ETH stakes. It will require a similar level of electricity as any other computer software.
Proof-of-stake is a system where the staked amount of ETH – and not the energy expended – determines who has control of the network. This makes attacks more costly and self-destructive, according to proof-of-stake boosters. Attackers can have their staked Ethereum slashed or reduced as punishment for trying to harm the network.
However, some are skeptical about the proof-of-stake security. There are no indications that Bitcoin, for example, will ever abandon the proof-of-work (PoW) consensus mechanism, as it is still seen as the more secure system.
Now, Ethereum’s security relies on stakers
The upgrade to a PoS blockchain ends the network’s dependence on energy-intensive cryptocurrency mining.
The idea that Ethereum would eventually switch to proof of stake was clear from the beginning. However, the transition was complicated and risky. Many people doubted that it would ever happen.
The complexity of the update was exacerbated by the fact it was one of the most complex open-source software projects in history. It required coordination among dozens of teams as well as volunteers, researchers, and developers.
Tim Beiko, an Ethereum foundation developer, played a crucial role in the coordination of the update. He believed that more investors would become interested in crypto after this monumental milestone in the crypto universe.
Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum’s creator, suggested that there’s still a long way ahead for the network: “This is the first step in Ethereum’s big journey towards being a very mature system, but there are still steps left to go.”
Ethereum miners will need to switch course as soon as September, when the network will no longer require miners to validate transactions and create new blocks. They might consider mining other cryptocurrencies or even give up completely.
After The Merge, the Ethereum miners will no longer be part of the network participants, and they will have to shift their use of the network. The roles of Ethereum miners will now be obsolete, and they are forced to find alternative income streams.
The sudden change took, in fact, years of research and development, but after The Merge, Ethereum will finally be described as a safer, energy-efficient, and scalable blockchain network.
After the Ethereum network moved to a Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism (PoS), it is now that Ethereum miners face a sudden change. Their role effectively ends, and they are forced to look for alternative income streams.
This historical moment for the Ethereum community, known as the “The Merge,” is expected to take place on September 15th, 2022, but might take place even sooner.
What’s the Ethereum Merge?
The Ethereum Merge is the switch from a Proof-of-Work (PoW) to a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus mechanism. In plain English, a PoS blockchain doesn’t require miners (aka energy-intensive computers) to validate transactions and create new blocks but replies on stakers and validators.
This will have many benefits, including the elimination of energy-intensive mining. To secure the network, the network will instead use staking.
Over the years, as more applications have been deployed on Ethereum, users have been hit with high transaction fees, low scalability, and even network congestion. But all of these are expected to change in the near future.
When complete, the Merge will eliminate Ethereum’s high gas fees, improve scalability and security, and provide greater sustainability.
What will happen to Ethereum miners?
Since its creation, Ethereum has relied on GPU (graphics processing unit) rigs to perform the process of Ethereum mining. They are more flexible than the ones used for bitcoin mining, and can be reconfigured to mine other coins more easily. GPUs are used by gamers but can also be used to mine other cryptos such as Ergo, Ravencoin, and Ethereum Classic.
But as Ethereum is being upgraded, all these miners will have to either start mining other coins or give up crypto mining entirely. It’s worth noting that a profitable mining rig costs more than $1,000, and the operation’s success relies on the cost of electricity, which has also gone up dramatically since the beginning of 2022.
In the past, Ethereum mining was very popular due to its profitability. However, miners will have to switch course and employ their GPUs on other blockchains. While a shift to mining other cryptocurrencies could result in a decrease in profits in the short term, it still represents income for owners of these expensive mining rigs.
One of the biggest beneficiaries of the switch could be Ethereum Classic (ETC), as some expect many of the Ethereum miners to turn to Ethereum Classic. It’s worth noting that the ETC hashrate has started to rise since July. Some investors might even view Ethereum Classic as a hedge against potential disruptions in Ethereum’s blockchain during the transition from PoW-to-PoS.
Can Ethereum miners switch to Bitcoin mining? Not really, because the two networks use different mining algorithms. Bitcoin requires ASIC-compatible hardware, which has a higher performance, but it’s also more energy intensive. ETH, on the other hand, uses a mining algorithm called “Ethash,” which was designed to be ASIC-resistant.
After Ethereum moves to PoS, the most likely outcome is that miners will distribute their rigs among different networks that support GPU mining.
Ethereum’s co-founder presented the future of Ethereum at the EthCC Paris 2022 conference.
In July 2022, took place the 5th Paris Community Conference, during which Vitalk Buterin presented the long-term road map for Ethereum.
At the developer-focused conference, Buterin spoke about the “Merge,” in which Ethereum will undergo a complete transition from proof-of-work (PoW) to proof-of-stake (PoS).
What’s next to come for Ethereum?
Buterin spoke about the Merge’s short-term and long-term outcomes. He stated that the network’s roadmap also includes the “Surge”, which will increase the scalability of rollups through sharding.
According to Buterin’s statements, Ethereum would be much more scalable after the completion of the road map. When everything is complete, Ethereum will be capable of processing 100,000 transactions per minute.
Ethereum’s overall network development will be at 55% completion once the Merge is completed. That means that there is still much work ahead for developers.
Buterin stated that the network’s deep changes would include an update to its monetary policies and token issuance, as well as its security model, transaction inclusion, and its security model.
It is hard to pursue these decentralized goals due to the network’s complexity and rapid changes. He said that everyone had been anticipating these network upgrades for a while.
When Vitalik asked the crowd, “Who wants to cancel proof-of-stake?” – he did not raise a hand.
He joked, “Even though you want to, it’s not going to be canceled.”
Ether has been trading at around $1,500 and up 34% in the last month.
Buterin spoke at last year’s EthCC and stated that Ethereum needed to go beyond decentralized finance (DeFi).
The conference was busiest on Thursday (July 21st), according to many conference attendees. Many said that Buterin’s talk would make Thursday the most memorable day.
What is the “Merge” for Ethereum?
It’s a known fact that the Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains use the proof-of-work (PoW) consensus algorithm to secure their networks. This allows miners to compete to secure it by solving complicated computational puzzles. However, it has been criticized for its high energy consumption.
But there’s an alternative to that, and it’s called proof-of-stake (PoS). This is a version of the protocol that has been adopted by chains such as Solana or Tezos, and it replaces miners with validators. In the case of Ethereum, the PoS Eth will have validators stake 32 ETH on the Ethereum network, and each one can be randomly selected to add blocks to the chain.
In both of these mechanisms, PoW and PoS, adding blocks to a chain usually grant rewards to the block issuer.
The Ethereum roadmap has been hinting on this upgrade from PoW since 2015, but engineering complexities have caused this shift (Ethereum 2.0) to drag out for several years.
Although the Merge will not reduce Ethereum’s high fees or improve the transaction speeds, it will have an immediate impact on Ethereum’s energy consumption.
As of July 2022, Ethereum’s Sepolia testnet switched to PoS. Goerli will be the third and final public testnet to go through the Merge process. It will take place on Aug. 11. The next Ethereum Foundation All-Core Developers conference will determine the parameters that will trigger the test. These testnet mergers were used as a kind of dress rehearsal for the real thing, and each moved developers one step closer to Ethereum’s mainnet PoS update.
When is the Ethereum merge going to happen?
Tim Beiko, from the Ethereum Foundation, predicted that the Merge could take place around September 19th 2022.
The Merge will see Ethereum move from an energy-intensive proof of work (POW), a consensus mechanism that was brought forward by Bitcoin, to a more efficient proof-of-stake system (PoS). Some PoS proponents believe that switching to other mechanisms will bring security and scaling benefits, in addition to cutting down the network’s energy consumption by 99.95%.
Beiko, an Ethereum protocol engineer, gave his September estimate during a PoS implementers call. Beiko provided a timeline and a date for the Merge, as well as a possible date.
Although he did not offer a hard date for the Merge, but Beiko repeatedly pointed out – on Discord and Twitter – that it is very likely that things will change.