JPEX Review of the Week That Saw the Completion of Ethereum’s Merge (September 12 to 18)

The second full week of September brought about several important events ongoing in the crypto finance industry. There was Binance Blockchain Week Paris 2022 that saw CEO Chanpeng Zhao shed light on several areas of the industry including the European Union’s (EU) Market in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) regulation.

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) Group launched Ether (ETH) options while Tether Limited announced that its stablecoin USDT has launched on the Near Network. During the week, prosecutors in South Korea issued an arrest warrant for Terraform Labs co-founder and former CEO Do Kwon to face charges for the collapse of the stablecoin TerraUSD (UST, now called USTC) which led to the loss of billions of dollars by investors.

A new non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace called X2Y2 also surpassed the largest NFT marketplace OpenSea in 30-day trading volume. More importantly, Ethereum’s transition to the less energy-intensive Proof-of-Stake (PoS) network from the high-carbon emission-related Proof-of-Work (PoW) was finally completed on Thursday, September 15. 

Ethereum Now a Proof-of-Stake Network

After operating as a PoW network for five years, Ethereum announced a move to a PoS network on December 1, 2020. After seven years and two months of operating as a PoW network and 20 months after announcing the transition to Proof-of-Stake, Ethereum finally joined Solana, Binance Smart Chain, Cardano, and the TRON network among others as PoS networks following the successful completion of “The Merge” on Thursday, Sept. 15. 

With this, Ethereum has joined an exclusive team of networks that have found answers to the trilemma of blockchains which are decentralization, security, and scalability. 

In previous years, there has been a migration of decentralized applications (dApps) housed in the Ethereum ecosystem to other highly-scalable platforms. The news has positively reflected in the development activity of Ethereum in the last 30 days with 389.3. Ethereum trailed only Cardano and Kusama which had 470.8 and 491.5 respectively.

By becoming a PoS Network, the native asset of the Ethereum ecosystem, Ether (ETH) has also become a PoS coin. This means that the profitable crypto mining industry has lost one of its highly rewarding coins in Ether. Stakeholders of ETH mining have been switching to other PoW coins while others are buying more ETH to meet the minimum requirement of staking the coin which is around 32 ETH (around $50,000).  

Top Ethereum Mining Pools Have Turned to Ethereum Proof-of-Work (ETHW)

Due to the costs involved in mining digital assets (rising hardware costs of application-specific integrated circuits as well as electricity fees), many people join mining pools to share rewards and losses from PoW coins. ETH miners shared $756 million in August while the same miners split $2 billion in rewards in November 2021 when the coin reached an all-time high (ATH) of $4,891.70, per data from CoinMarketCap

As a result, top mining pools such as F2Pool, AntPool, and others announced the launch of ETHW (EthereumPoW) mining pool. Ethereum Proof-of-Work was launched on Friday, September 16 since it was scheduled to be completed 24 hours after the Merge. 

“F2Pool has launched the ETHW mining pool, the remaining hashrate in our ETH pool is redirected to our ETHW mining pool”, said F2Pool in a blog post. 

“ANTPOOL has officially launched our ETHW mining pool. Mining pool uses the PPS+payment method to ensure users maximize their earnings and at the same time, ANTPOOL will continue to provide 24/7 stable mining services,” AntPool announced in a published post on its website. Other mining pools that have joined the ETHW movement include but are not limited to Poolin, BTC.com, Nanopool, ETHWmine, Molepool, Extremehash, Solomine, and WoolyPooly. 

South Korean Court Issued Arrest Warrant for Terra Co-Founder Do Kwon

On Wednesday, September 14, a South Korean court issued an arrest warrant against Do Kwon, the co-founder and former CEO of Terraform Labs Do Kwon, and five others. The parties involved are said to be hiding in Singapore. Unable to arrest them on foreign soil, the authorities sent information about the arrest warrant to Interpol’s Red Notice which permits arrests in multiple jurisdictions. 

Prosecutors believe Do Kwon and his cohorts violated the country’s Capital Markets Law due to some of the products they offered investors falling under the category of investment contract securities. 

Some of the investors present at the court also filed different charges against Do Kwon for running what they deemed as a Ponzi scheme. 

Tether (USDT) Launched on Near Network

On Monday, September 12, Tether Limited announced the launch of USDT on the Near Network. USDT is the largest stablecoin by market capitalization with approximately $70 billion. Aside from that, the stablecoin was involved in 41 million transactions in August which corresponded to an adjusted on-chain volume of $258 billion

More than 700 projects are building on NEAR due to its unique scaling solution that provides the ideal environment for decentralized applications to thrive. 

“We are excited to launch USDT on NEAR, offering its community access to the first, most stable, and trusted stablecoin in the digital token space. The NEAR ecosystem has witnessed historic growth this year and we believe Tether will be essential in helping it continue to thrive,” said Paolo Ardoino, Chief Technical Officer (CTO) at Tether. 

“We champion initiatives that can bring greater stability to the DeFi ecosystem and help us advance the mass adoption of Web3. We look forward to seeing what Tether will achieve with the launch of USDT on NEAR Network and the vital role it will play in the future of finance and the digital economy,” Marieke Flament, CEO of NEAR Foundation added. 

Aside from NEAR, USDT has also been deployed on Solana, TRON, Tezos, Polygon, Ethereum, Kusama, Bitcoin Cash, Avalanche, and Algorand. 

CME Group Announces Launch of Ether Options

On Monday, September 12, the world’s leading derivatives marketplace, CME Group announced the launch of options on Ether futures. Ether (ETH) Futures are legal agreements to buy or sell ETH at a future date. Ether futures is a contract representation of Ether, and the actual settlement of Ether (or cash) that will happen in the future – when the contract is exercised. 

“The launch of our new Ether options contracts is well-timed to provide the crypto community with another important tool to gain access to and manage exposure to ether. Our new options contracts will also complement CME Group’s Ether futures which have seen a 43% increase in average daily volume year over year,” said Tim McCourt, Global Head of Equity and FX Products, CME Group. 

X2Y2 Surpassed OpenSea in 30-Day Volume

OpenSea is widely known as the biggest NFT marketplace by all-time volume. Within the last 30 days up to Wednesday, September 14, X2Y2, a platform launched this past February generated $340 million in volume from 80,000 transactions. Within the same period, OpenSea generated around $334 million from more than 1 million transactions. 

While September 12 to 18 was a week of Ethereum’s Merge, September 19 to 25 will be remembered for Cardano’s Vasil Hard Fork which is scheduled for Thursday, September 22. 

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