Prysmatic Labs co-founder Preston Van Loon announced the launch of an Ethereum 2.0 Proof of Stake (PoS) blockchain Testnet on May 7.
While the full transition for Ethereum away from its current Proof of Work algorithm to a Proof of Stake blockchain is still over a year away, the testnet launch by Prysmatic labs represents a positive development for the currency. According to Van Loon in an update published to Medium,
“It’s here it’s here! Over the past months we’ve been preparing extensively, working every single day to deliver a public testnet for Ethereum 2.0’s proof of stake beacon chain to the community. We have it, it’s live, and you can stake! This is a non-trivial, critical step to take this technology to the next level, and we need you to be a part of it.”
As opposed to most cryptocurrency overhauls, which involve the creation of two currencies in following a hard fork of the blockchain, Ethereum 2.0 is being developed as a transition for the existing cryptocurrency. While there are a number of features that will be rolled out in updates over the next sixteenth months, Proof of Stake is being billed as the solution to ETH’s scalability issues. In addition, the algorithmic shift will make Ethereum 2.0 more secure and decentralized, while allowing users to stake their coins to improve the overall network experience.
In return for “staking” coins in their Ethereum wallet, users will receive a dividend similar to the interest paid on a savings account. However, while the PoS transition is being hailed as a monumental development for the second ranked currency by market capitalization, not everyone believes 2.0 will launch as smoothly as expected.
Speaking on a conference panel earlier in the week, Messari CEO Ryan Selkis predicted that the Ethereum 2.0 launch would not occur until 2021 at the earliest, compared to the 2020 timetable given by ETH core developers. Selkis claimed that Proof of Stake integration would lead to delays, and believes the currency is fine operating for the next several years under its well-tested Proof of Work algorithm.
Prysmatic Labs’ launch of an Ethereum 2.0 testnet, while currently limited, gives a vote of confidence in the overall transition to Proof of Stake. The update posted to Medium highlights sharding as a major development for Ethereum moving forward, which function as individual chains managing smart contracts, transactions and more.
Van Loon explained,
“A core concept of Ethereum 2.0 is the idea of shards, which are individual chains that manage smart contracts, transactions, and state. These shards are coordinated by one root chain, known as the beacon chain, which is what phase 0 of Ethereum 2.0 implements. Having shards allows for horizontal scalability of the system, as transactions can be processed in parallel compared to the current Ethereum proof of work chain.”
Prysmatic reports that the present version of the testnet is fully accessible to the public, and is not a simulation of the blockchain. Users are free to participate in maintain the network and deposit ETH into a deposit contract for staking or run a validator client. The full list of features and instructions for joining the officially live network can be found here.