After a crowdfunding campaign with uncertain prospects until its final hours, Ethereum 2.0 is scheduled to launch today, bringing long-awaited proof-of-stake technology to the blockchain platform that has long aspired to be “the world’s computer.”
With the launch of the protocol’s beacon chain, set for noon UTC on Tuesday (8 p.m. HKT, or 7 a.m. EST today), major exchanges like Coinbase and Huobi have pledged support for token staking.
“Coinbase intends to support ETH2 through staking and trading,” the exchange wrote on its blog. The company explained that while the ETH 2.0 tokens stay locked on the beacon chain for now, it’s their intent to enable trading between ETH 2.0, ETH, and all other supported currencies to build liquidity across the trading pairs.
On December 1, the Ethereum Beacon Chain will launch, beginning a multi-year upgrade to Ethereum 2.0 (ETH2). Coinbase intends to fully support ETH2 through staking and trading.— Coinbase (@coinbase) November 30, 2020
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For its part, Huobi says it plans to support Beacon Ethereum (BETH) staking with a one-click functionality. “With this function, you can pledge ETH as BETH with one click and participate in ETH 2.0 proof-of-stake mining. Huobi Global will open BETH’s transaction at any opportunity according to the network status,” the company said in a blog post.
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But for now, most users don’t need to do anything. That’s because this part of the process, Phase 0, only allows users to lock-up their tokens for staking in order to contribute to network validation and the chance to earn back block rewards.
“You do not need to do anything with any ETH you’re already holding,” the Ethereum Foundation explained. “It won’t be like the Ethereum mainnet of today. It can’t handle accounts or smart contracts.”
For retail users, the next relevant checkpoint is going to take place in late 2021 or early 2022 when the mainnet is activated. At that point, ETH 1.0 and 2.0 will converge, or “dock” in its parlance, and tokens from one will be usable on the other. At that point, major exchanges will offer the ability to convert your ETH 1.0 tokens for their proof-of-stake counterparts.
Coinbase says it plans to roll out that feature in early 2021. “We’re excited for this major milestone for ETH 2.0, and the potential that a final rollout of ETH 2.0 holds for the entire cryptocurrency community,” wrote Surojit Chatterjee in a Coinbase blog post.
As the second-largest cryptocurrency by market cap and volume, Ethereum, despite numerous competitors launching during the last two years, is still one of the most liquid assets in all of crypto. According to Ethernodes.org, the number of Ethereum nodes has surpassed that of Bitcoin, with 11,259 Ethereum nodes currently active, giving it a roughly 1% lead over Bitcoin’s 11,136. Ethereum’s node count surpassed Bitcoin’s in early September. This is largely due to the demand decentralized finance (DeFi) places on the network and the rush to fix this congestion over the summer by creating more nodes to bring down the gas fee.
Ethereum is currently trading at $610, up 4% over the last 24 hours.