The Shapella hard fork, which allows Ethereum validators to withdraw their staked Ether from the Beacon Chain, has finally been implemented on the Ethereum mainnet. This upgrade was executed at epoch number 194,048 on April 12, 2023, after a long period of anticipation.
According to the Ethereum block explorer beaconchai.in, 12,859 Ether were unlocked within the first hour of the Shapella hard fork through 4,333 withdrawals. As of now, approximately 44 percent of validators, which is 248,043 out of the total 559,549 active validators, can ask for a full or partial withdrawal of their Ether.
Currently, most of the withdrawals made after the Shapella hard fork are for amounts ranging from 2.8 to 3.2 ETH, indicating that validators are mostly withdrawing their staking rewards. This is supported by the fact that only 3,996 validators had signed up to exit the queue just before the hard fork was executed, as per information from Rated Network Explorer.
Blockchain analytics firm Nansen has reported that Huobi, a crypto exchange, holds the largest portion of withdrawable Ether after the Shapella hard fork at 30 percent, while PieDAO, a decentralised autonomous organisation, holds 17.7 percent. As per Nansen's data, a total of 284,622 Ether is available for full withdrawal by 7,948 validators.
Despite the implementation of the Shapella hard fork, which can potentially unlock 18.1 million Ether worth over $34.8 billion on the Beacon Chain, the price of Ether has remained almost unchanged during the first hour of the upgrade. This aligns with a previous prediction made by blockchain intelligence platform Glassnode in an April 11 report.
Glassnode's report stated that only a small fraction of the potentially unlockable 18.1 million Ether on the Beacon Chain would be released within the first week of the Shapella hard fork, and the 12,859 Ether that were withdrawn in the first hour represent just 0.07 percent of the total Ether staked on the Beacon Chain.
With the Ethereum Investment Proposal EIP-4895, staked Ether was moved from the Beacon Chain to the Ethereum Virtual Machine, allowing for withdrawals. This upgrade marks a significant milestone for Ethereum's proof-of-stake system and is the most significant upgrade since the Merge on September 15.
The writer is the founder at yMedia. He ventured into crypto in 2013 and is an ETH maximalist. Twitter: @bhardwajshash