Ethereum Metropolis – Hard Fork, Security & Anonymity Changes?
An updated version of the Ethereum network will be launched in late September. Known as “Metropolis”, the hard fork will introduce a number of major changes to the network.
Metropolis’s most important changes involve better security and anonymity for the Ethereum system.
This is the second official update for the Ethereum network, after the original Frontier version of Ethereum and its first hard fork, Homestead.
We’ve been expecting Metropolis since developers announced the update in early February. The update was initially expected to be released in August, although the release was postponed due to continued development on the update. The September release window still fits into the project’s initial Q3 2017 estimated release date for Metropolis.
The update comes as the price of Ether – and its trading volume – has surged over the past month. Some believe the price has increased in anticipation for Metropolis, while others believe Metropolis will cause the price of Ether to drop due to decreased mining rewards.
In any case, let’s take a look at what you can expect with Ethereum’s next hard fork, Metropolis.
What’s New With Metropolis?
Ethereum’s Metropolis update will enable significant improvements on the network, including:
- Increased anonymity of transactions and easier programming
- New zk-SNARKS, or zero-knowledge proofs, which will let Ethereum carry out anonymous transactions at high levels on the blockchain
- Advanced security in the form of masking, which will protect users from hacking attacks
- Users will gain full control of their private keys on Ethereum, and they’ll be able to determine the address they have for the key using existing protocols
- Upgraded smart contract functionality, including increased automated and reduced costs; after the Metropolis update, smart contracts will automatically settle fees without the need to be first approved by users
- A “Difficulty Bomb” that will make it more difficult to mine Ether; however, this difficulty upgrade is expected to be delayed because the network is entering a phase called the “Ethereum Ice Age” ahead of schedule
Will Metropolis Cause The Price Of Ether To Rise Or Fall?
Typically, when a major network upgrade is successfully implemented, the value of a currency can be expected to rise.
However, this is the cryptocurrency world, and we never know where prices are going to go. Ethereum’s price has nearly tripled since July. Some see that as a sign that Metropolis is priced into the market, while others see it as a sign that a major price surge is still to come.
It’s also important to remember that the decline in mining rewards to three Ether per block could lead to a decrease in the price of Ether. Previously, upgrades have led to a growth in Ether mining, which has led to a higher price. That’s not necessarily the case with Metropolis.
In any case, we won’t know the market’s reaction to Metropolis until the upgrade is officially added to the blockchain in late September. We don’t have a final date for the upgrade.
We do know, however, that Metropolis won’t be the last Ethereum upgrade. The developers have already announced the platform’s fourth hard fork, called Serenity, which is expected to introduce major changes like proof-of-stake. A release date for Serenity has not yet been announced.