The addition of withdrawals could entice other enthusiasts to start staking, safe in the knowledge that they'll be able to reclaim their ETH more easily if required.
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Ethereum validators now know when they'll be able to withdraw their ETH.
Two key upgrades — Shanghai and Capella — are going to be activated on April 12.
This is a significant milestone. Back in December 2020, a deposit contract launched that allowed enthusiasts to lock up their Ether.
Investing 32 ETH gave them the right to become a validator — meaning they would receive rewards every time they added a new block to the blockchain.
All of this was a crucial part of Ethereum's ambitious switch from a Proof-of-Work to a Proof-of-Stake blockchain — a process that was known as The Merge.
The project ultimately made miners obsolete, and dramatically reduced the blockchain's energy use, by switching to a model where the network is maintained by those with a financial interest.
Although The Merge was successfully completed last September, stakers have been unable to withdraw their ETH ever since.
The latest figures from Etherscan suggests more than 17.9 million ETH is currently stored in the deposit contract — and at the time of writing, that has a value of $32.4 billion.
But stakers have been warned that the process of being reunited with their ETH could take weeks or months as a staggered approach is being adopted.
And the "Shapella" upgrade doesn't necessarily mean we'll see a rush for the exits. The addition of withdrawals could entice other enthusiasts to start staking, safe in the knowledge that they'll be able to reclaim their ETH more easily if required.
Experts have previously dismissed fears that we'll see withdrawals en masse. Indeed, those who sent ETH to the deposit contract back in December 2020 knew they were in for the long haul.
In a blog post on the Ethereum Foundation's website, it was also announced that the bug bounty has been doubled for anyone who uncovers vulnerabilities in the Shapella upgrade — a financial incentive for white hat hackers. The article added:
"Thank you to everyone who contributed to the Shapella upgrade, and to all the stakers — old and new — who helped secure what are still the early days of proof-of-stake Ethereum!"
Current priorities include reducing gas fees — as right now, a single transaction can cost more than the daily income some people receive in developing economies. Last year, he told the Blockchain Futurist Conference in Canada:
"If you want to actually have a world where we can have blockchain activity happening without needing to trust centralized exchanges for everything, then we just have to learn how to make blockchains cheaper."
Rollups are a key part of this push — meaning that greater amounts of data can be packed into every transaction. In a way, it can be compared to shoving as many clothes into a suitcase as possible. Buterin explained:
"[This means] massively cheaper transactions to the point where on-chain transactions actually will become affordable for lots of people for whom they are not affordable today."
Sharding is another key priority, which involves allowing Ethereum's blockchain to hold much larger amounts of data.