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The ETH Fork

If the ETH Merge does result in a fork, the way to ensure you qualify for any additional tradable assets is to hold ETH. Ideally, you’ll want to hold it as spot on the ETH main-net (meaning just hold ETH on the Ethereum network, not in a pool, not lent, not wrapped on an L2, not on an exchange, etc).

While it is likely that you will qualify on many centralized exchanges, and may even qualify on L2s and other chains by holding wrapped ETH, only holding ETH on main-net guarantees access to all potential ETH forks.

What is the name of the forked ETH token? ETHW or Proof-of-Work ETH is the likely name and ticker symbol of the ETH token that will continue to be mined with Proof-of-Work on the Proof-of-Work chain. So there would be the main ETH token everyone uses, and then a ETHW Proof-of-Work fork maintained by those who run old ETH mining equipment. There may also be other forked ETH tokens, these tokens could exist on either the new ETH network or the PoW one. No forks are certain yet, although we will write about them and how to claim them as they occur.

TLDR: Most people don’t have to do anything for the ETH Merge. The Merge may or may not result in a fork that produces additional tradable assets (such as a tradable ETH PoW token with a liquid market). If you have 1 ETH before the Merge, you’ll have one ETH after, that part is certain. You may also be able to claim other tradable assets, as was the case for the fork that produced ETC and the fork that produced BCH. The number of forked assets you get will be proportional to ETH held.

Everything You Need to Know about the ETH Merge Fork / Proof-of-Work Fork

Here is what you need to know going into the Merge in terms of potential forks:

  • The Ethereum Network is going through a major update on Sept 14th called “the Merge.”
  • The Merge is a major part of ETH 2.0, a series of updates that improves the Ethereum Network and moves it from Proof-of-Work mining to Proof-of-Stake.
  • The Merge specifically is estimated to reduce Ethereum’s energy consumption by ~99.95% and set the stage for future scaling upgrades such as sharding.
  • According to the official Ethereum Foundation website, the Merge is expected to occur within Q3/Q4 2022. There is a soft deadline of Sept 19th (although this can change), and the Merge is more specifically estimated to occur on Sept 14th.
  • For your ETH to be upgraded, you can pretty much hold it anywhere (although if you run your own Consensus Software, you have to upgrade your software ASAP to be compatible as part of the update).
  • To ensure you qualify for any forks that may occur that would result in another asset (like the Bitcoin fork that produced Bitcoin Cash), you need to have your ETH somewhere that allows you to claim any forked coin produced.
  • If you hold ETH on the Ethereum main-net, for example in a MetaMask wallet on the ETH network. You will automatically qualify for any forked assets. Doing this will allow you to use your public and private key to claim most forks (although you should move other funds first as a best practice before interacting with any contract as a safeguard since at least some fake contracts are likely). All this may also be true for L2s and for wrapped ETH on other chains, although this is much less certain. Given this, it is a best practice to move your ETH back to main-net before the Merge. Furthermore, remove it from pools, stop lending, etc.
  • If you hold ETH on major centralized exchanges, you would also likely qualify for any major fork. However, there is less certainty here as well. If we look at past forks like the fork that produced ETC and the Fork that produced BCH, we can see that some centralized exchanges credited these right away and others credited them far down the line. In cases of other forks, some exchanges have not credited forks at all.
  • One thing to keep in mind is that if someone(s) forks ETH, they may pick a block number other than the block(s) at which the Merge occurred as the block at which you qualify for the fork. They could also have other qualifications. like having traded on a specific L2. There are no specific rules for what developers will require. So keep in mind trading into ETH and then out quickly before and after the Merge might not be enough on its own.
  • Lastly, it is important to note that the Merge may not result in any other tradable assets and instead you’ll just end up with upgraded ETH. If this is the case it mostly doesn’t matter where you hold ETH or what form it is in. You’ll have ETH and continue to be able to trade it after the fork.

That is the gist of what to expect based on my experience in crypto since 2015. Make sure to take a deep breath, confirm any information above, and take the steps that you think are best for you.

TIP: You can borrow stables and buy ETH to have more ETH, potentially getting more forked assets. But watch out for liquidations. There is certain to be lots of volatility during the Merge. Keep in mind only this style of borrowing, like is offered on AAVE or MakerDAO will have this impact. If you borrow say on FTX, you’ll owe the lender back their forked ETH.

TIP: Be careful sending and trading ETH right around the time of the Merge. If something goes wrong, you don’t want to be stuck in a transaction on the block where the Merge occurs. Many centralized exchanges will shut down trading during this time, but main-net will continue to operate, so use best practices.

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"Will the ETH Merge Result in a Fork?" contains information about the following Cryptocurrencies:

Ethereum (ETH)

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