Centralized crypto exchanges have re-enabled withdrawals and deposits of Ether and related tokens on Thursday, after a brief pause due to uncertainty surrounding the Merge, Ethereum’s biggest upgrade in its seven-year history.
As of 5 p.m. New York time, Binance, FTX, Coinbase, OKX, Kraken, Gemini, Bitfinex, KuCoin and Bybit have resumed on-chain transfers of ETH and other tokens on Ethereum, such as USDC, DAI, stETH and MATIC.
The Merge has been years in the making and repeatedly delayed. As a precautionary measure, exchanges suspended the withdrawal and deposit of Ethereum tokens for several hours beginning on or shortly before midnight New York time. Trading was not suspended during the Merge.
The Merge has been likened to swapping out a plane’s engine mid-flight, as it changed the consensus mechanism that Ethereum uses to verify and order transactions. Formerly a proof-of-work blockchain like Bitcoin, Ethereum will consume 99% less energy using proof-of-stake technology, a welcome development for the environmentally conscious.
But the upgrade has also made billions of dollars worth of proof-of-work hardware obsolete, and some of the miners who own that hardware have successfully forked Ethereum, creating a duplicate blockchain dubbed ‘Ethereum Proof-of-Work’ that will continue to use proof-of-work technology.
OKX announced it was the first exchange to airdrop ETHW, the token of Ethereum Proof-of-Work, to customers in an amount equivalent to the ETH in their accounts.
Several exchanges have announced that they intend to follow suit, including Binance, Kraken and others. FTX said it would airdrop any token representing a “canonical PoW ETH fork, should it emerge.”
Some, including OKX and Bybit, have already listed ETHW for trading. Others are undecided.
“Kraken will subject any newly forked token(s) that might come into existence before, after or during the Merge to our standard, strict review process before making any token available for trading,” the company said on its website.
In a similar statement, Bitfinex said it would monitor Ethereum forks and “provide its customers with the best possible outcome once more information is available.”
Ether is down 8.2% in the past 24 hours.