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The Ethereum Merge: Are NFTs finally going green?

The Ethereum Merge could arguably be the biggest change made yet in regards to how we create and use NFTs. 

For those unfamiliar, Etheruem is the most popular form of currency used to purchase and trade NFTs. However, ETH (its currency symbol) has been plagued by its high energy costs, which became a major reason as to why some dislike non-fungible tokens. 

The Ethereum Merge is the biggest and most important software update to happen in decades because it drastically reduces the energy used to create and register an NFT on the blockchain. The energy expensive proof-of-work setup – that demands lots of decentralised power to process transactions due to a direct link miners – has been replaced by a more efficient system that uses collections of the token stored in ‘staking wallets’, with those contributing earning as much as 5.2 per cent for taking part. About time!

Its new ability to reduce energy consumption is nothing short of impressive. According to Ethereum researcher Justin Ðrake, “the merge will reduce worldwide electricity consumption by 0.2%”. It’s been suggested Ethereum’s energy use will be cut by between 90 and 99 percent. 

The question we now ask ourselves is this; with the use of unsustainable NFTs now almost off the table will the market see more buyers and creators and more rapid growth in general?

In recent months more eco-friendly crypto such as Solana and Polygon have become more popular, for example NFT marketplace Magic Eden’s use has jumped in popularity because it’s the largest Solana platform.

‘The Transition’ is the name of the first NFT collection made using the post-merge ETH. It cost 36 ETH, about $60K at current rates, and proves a couple of things, NFTs can be an acquired taste and the cost of minting on Ethereum isn’t getting any cheaper.

If you’re already using Ethereum and hold NFTs created on the blockchain, not to worry. OpenSea’s message on Twitter reads that all current NFTs held in your crypto wallet are safe and sound. OpenSea is the largest NFT marketplace around and has also stated that post-merge it will now only support proof-of-stake NFTs, so your guaranteed all non-fungible tokens from now on are low-cost energy.

There are still fights ahead for NFTs, including looking at decoupling non-fungible tokens from the vagaries of market forces and for projects to break away from a focus on digital art. Nevertheless, for now, a huge step has been made towards a greener future. 

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