Ethereum's (ETH) long-awaited “Merge” is expected to occur around Sept. 15, and is heralding fresh interest for the platform as it transitions to proof of stake from proof of work.
The Merge is considered as the most significant upgrade in Ethereum's history that is expected to reduce the platform's energy consumption by 99.95%.
Considering the benefits and the risks associated with the upgrade, a lot of cryptocurrency and stock investors are cautiously waiting its implementation.
The Merge is expected to eliminate the need for energy-intensive mining and instead secures the network using staked Ether, the platform's signature currency and the second-most valuable digital asset after Bitcoin.
The process is tipped to pave the way for scaling upgrades and help solve Ethereum's biggest problems, which is the substantial fees required to use the network.
Unfortunately, along with the benefits come the dangers of proceeding with The Merge.
What ETH is attempting is a complicated process, which is probably why it has been delayed for years since it was unveiled more than eight years ago. Crypto venture investor Christopher Calicott said "any time you're making changes to a complex system, there must necessarily arise unintended consequences."
Chandler Guo, a crypto industry veteran who leads a group opposing The Merge noted that "it's very difficult. It's very dangerous." According to some crypto experts, a change of this scale could also make Ethereum vulnerable to hacks or other disruptions.
There are 12 public companies with ETH on their balance sheets, holding a combined 212,513 ETH (current market value = US $325,994,942).
However, most of these entities are not on major recognisable exchanges. The exceptions being Coinbase Global (NASDAQ: COIN), BTCS (NASDAQ: BTCS), Meitu (HKG: 1357), Galaxy Digital Holdings (TSE: GLXY), and Mogo (TSE: MOGO).
The remaining seven entities, which can be found in over-the-counter or smaller exchanges focused on promoting black-swan type firms, include: Neptune Digital Assets (CVE: NDA), Ether Capital (OTCMKTS: DTSRF), HIVE Blockchain Technologies (CVE: HIVE), BIGG Digital Assets (CNSX: BIGG), Digihost Technology (CVE: DGHI), FRMO (OTCMKTS: FRMO) and Cypherpunk Holdings (CNSX: HODL).
Considering the scale of The Merge, it could either make or break some of these small cap companies, as well as retail users. Failure of the upgrade could imperil thousands of crypto applications that operate using ETH, which collectively handle more than $50 billion user funds.
Because the process is surrounded in much uncertainty, a lot of the predictions for what will happen once the upgrade is started are rooted from speculations. Regardless of the result, The Merge brings about plenty of attention to ETH and some traders are expecting the lead-up to the upgrade will see Ether prices rise in the short-term to between $1,850 to $2,000, Blockworks reported.
ETH has already outperformed Bitcoin in the past few weeks due to hype surrounding the upgrade. The number two crypto is up around 47% over a 50-day period to about $1,500 on spot markets, while bitcoin remains relatively flat, trading near $20,000.