The Crypto World Can’t Wait for ‘the Merge’

By David Yaffe-Bellany, New York Times

The cryptocurrency industry has endured a terrible year. A devastating crash wiped nearly $1 trillion from the market, draining the savings of thousands of people. Several companies filed for bankruptcy.

Now the industry is fixated on a potential saving grace: a long-awaited software upgrade to the most popular cryptocurrency platform, Ethereum, which provides the technological backbone for thousands of crypto projects. The upgrade — known as the Merge — has gained near-mythical status after years of delays that left some insiders questioning whether it would ever happen.

But if all goes according to plan, the Merge will take place around Sept. 15, more than eight years after it was initially discussed. The change would shift Ethereum to a more energy-efficient infrastructure, addressing the widespread criticism that crypto’s climate impact outweighs its possible benefits. And it would lay the foundation for future upgrades to reduce the hefty fees required to conduct transactions in Ether, the platform’s signature currency and the second-most valuable digital asset after Bitcoin.

“This transition is essentially laying a road map to a future which is far more scalable, far more energy efficient and a lot more usable to the normal person,” said Joseph Ayoub, an analyst at Citi who has studied the Merge. “It’s laying the groundwork for adoption.”

But the risks are profound. Even by crypto standards, the process is almost ludicrously complicated.

Continue Reading…