The Ethereum Merge is expected to happen this week after the final shadow fork was successfully completed.

The Merge will see the network move from an energy-guzzling proof-of-work system – where mining rigs solving complex mathematical problems validate blockchains, as also seen with Bitcoin – to proof-of-stake.

Merging the Ethereum mainnet with the proof-of-stake beacon chain should make the network immediately faster and more scalable, as well as 99% more energy-efficient.

The first test ahead of the Merge was held back in April. They have allowed Ethereum developers to practice running nodes, deploying contracts and testing the infrastructure.

Now with the final test having successfully completed, Ethereum – backed by the world’s second most valuable cryptocurrency – is bracing itself for the move over.

Google, meanwhile, is marking the event with a countdown timer.

Typing ‘Ethereum Merge’, ‘the Merge’ or something similar into the search engine brings up a countdown clock which, according to a tweet from Google Cloud developer Sam Padilla, is connected directly to the blockchain.

The time left is estimated on the current difficulty, hash rate and merge difficulty. At 7am UK time on Monday, it is showing 2 days 21 hrs 4 mins.

The countdown is illustrated by two happy pandas rushing to embrace one another.

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Cryptocurrency shorts

Metaverse and blockchain gaming giant Animoca Brands has raised $110 million funding led by Singapore’s state-owned investor Temasek to fund acquisitions and the purchase of intellectual property licences. Boyu Capital and GGV Capital are also new investors in the round, with the three set to advise the company on business issues. Existing investors Mirae Asset Management and True Global Ventures also featured.

Legendary film director Quentin Tarantino has settled a lawsuit from Miramax over NFTs featuring uncut screenplay scenes from 1994 movie Pulp Fiction. The two will collaborate in the future on NFT projects.

Cryptocurrency exchange has won a provisional regulatory licence from Dubai’s Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority.

Bitmama, a Nigeria-based blockchain startup, has raised $2 million pre-seed funding led by Unicorn Growth Capital and Launch Africa. Originally aiming to allow Africans to buy and sell cryptocurrency, it is also eyeing functionality such as the purchase of airtime and paying for utilities.

Merriam-Webster, the oldest dictionary in the United States, has added ‘altcoin’ and ‘metaverse’. The former is defined as any cryptocurrency “regarded as alternatives to established cryptocurrencies and especially to Bitcoin”; the latter as “a persistent virtual environment that allows access to and interoperability of multiple individual virtual realities”.

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Crypto prices

The overall market cap of the more than 20,900 coins is at $1.05 trillion at the time of writing (7am UK), up from $1.02tn on Friday morning.

Market leader Bitcoin – the original cryptocurrency created by the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto – gained more than $1,200 to top $21,700. BTC is 10% up on its price a week ago.

Ethereum, the second most valuable crypto coin – created as a decentralised network for smart contracts on the blockchain – rose $25 to around $1,725. ETH is 10% up over the course of a week.

Binance Coin is a cryptocurrency created by popular crypto exchange Binance to assist its aim in becoming the infrastructure services provider for the entire blockchain ecosystem. Its BNB token added $3 to $293, leaving it 6% up over seven days.

The XRP token of Ripple, a payment settlement asset exchange and remittance system, acts as a bridge for transfers between other currencies. XRP climbed slightly to 35.2c, with its price 8% up on seven days ago.

Cardano is an open source network facilitating dApps which considers itself to be an updated version of Ethereum. Its ADA token, designed to allow owners to participate in the operation of the network, rose 1.5c to 50.5c and is 2% up in a week.

Solana is a blockchain built to make decentralised finance accessible on a larger scale – and capable of processing 50,000 transactions per second. Its SOL token lost 60c to $34.68, 9% higher than its price a week ago.

Polkadot was founded by the Swiss-based Web3 Foundation as an open-source project to develop a decentralised web. Its DOT token, which aims to securely connect blockchains, remained at $7.65 and is 1% up on its price a week ago.

Meme coin DOGE was created as a satire on the hype surrounding cryptocurrencies but is now a major player in the space. DOGE remained around 6.3c and is 1% up over seven days.

Polygon aims to securely connect blockchains as a sort of decentralised internet. Its MATIC token rose slightly to top 88c, while it is slightly down in a week.

Avalanche is a lightning-quick verifiable platform for institutions, enterprises and governments. Its AVAX token gained 19c to $20.30 and is 7% up on a week ago.

To see how the valuations of the main coins have changed in recent times – and for round-ups of recent cryptocurrency news developments – click here.

For valuations of the top 100 coins by market cap in US dollars, plus 24-hour price change, see below.