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Forget Merging, the New Plan Is to ‘Dock’ Ethereum to Eth 2.0

The “sneak” update made to the Ethereum 2.0 protocol that will help enable trustless staking pools to emerge on the network.

March 11, 2021

In this week’s episode of “Mapping Out Eth 2.0,” CoinDesk’s Christine Kim and Will Foxley and Consensys’ Ben Edgington talk about the “sneak” update made to the Ethereum 2.0 protocol that will help enable trustless staking pools to emerge on the network.

All Eth 2.0 validators after staking 32 ETH on the network are required to generate two cryptographic keys. One is used to sign off validator responsibilities such as attesting to blocks. The other, called the “withdrawal key,” is held until a validator exits the network and withdraws his or her staked ether.

Up until mid-February, no user could be certain where funds would be deposited after a validator withdraws their stake. Developers have recently upgraded Eth 2.0 code so that withdrawals of validator funds can be linked to Ethereum accounts and wallets active on the original Ethereum blockchain.

To be clear, the pathway for where validator funds would land has been specified in the Eth 2.0 protocol through this update, but withdrawals and ether transfers are still not enabled on the network. Clarity on where funds will go after validators can move their stake off the network is positive news for Eth 2.0 staking pools.

The first code update of Eth 2.0 enables staking pools to set up trustless smart contracts on Ethereum to divide up earned rewards between participants. This, according to Edgington, is “a big deal” for decentralized staking services such as RocketPool that differentiate themselves from competitors by offering a transparent and distributed way to validate on Eth 2.0.

The mechanism that allows validators funds to be withdrawn to existing Ethereum accounts also signals a change in the Eth 2.0 development timetable.

“[The Eth1 and Eth2] merge has come forward in the timetable. Previously, it was envisaged at being quite distant after we’ve done sharding and after we’ve done some kind of execution environment technology. But now we are bringing the merge forward in the timetable and just putting Eth1 on top of the beacon chain,” said Edgington.

The new plan is to “dock” Eth1 like a plane to Eth2.

Listen to the full podcast episode to learn more about the docking plan for Ethereum.

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