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Vitalik Buterin Plays Down Impact of Ethereum Forks After Merge

SEOUL, South Korea – Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin played down the impact of any hard forks after the network’s Merge event in September.

Speaking at the developer event ETH Seoul over the weekend, Buterin said, “I don't expect Ethereum to really be significantly harmed by another fork.”

The blockchain plans to switch to a proof-of-stake (PoS) mechanism, an event known as the Merge, next month in a move developers say will make it cheaper, faster and more environmentally friendly. The change from a proof-of-work (PoW) system will end an income stream for Ethereum miners, who are rewarded with ether (ETH) tokens for their efforts. Miners produced $620 million in ether in July alone, data shows. Tron founder Justin Sun has emerged as one of the most prominent investors supporting a hard fork to keep the money flowing.

Buterin said supporters of the PoW consensus design shifted to Ethereum Classic when that network started in 2016 because it was known at the time that Ethereum would eventually shift to proof-of-stake (PoS) while Ethereum Classic would not.

“I think Ethereum Classic already has a superior community and a superior product for people kind of with those pro-proof-of-work values and preferences,” he said. “Pretty much everyone” in the Ethereum ecosystem is supportive of the move to proof-of-stake validation and “quite united."

Prominent Chinese miners like Chandler Guo have proposed a hard fork, so even as Ethereum undergoes The Merge and becomes validated by stakers, miners could continue to support a newly separated PoW version of the chain. Sun committed a part of his million ether holdings toward the development of the so-called EthereumPoW network.

Sun’s Poloniex exchange has already listed ETHW futures, a product that allows traders to bet on prices of the token issued to ether holders after the EthereumPoW network comes into existence. Futures exchange BitMEX today also listed ETHW futures, nearly a week after it published a report on how traders could take advantage of the market reaction after the issuance of the tokens.

“A couple of outsiders basically have exchanges and mostly just want to make a quick buck," Buterin said. "So I'm not expecting it to have substantial, long-term adoption.”

"I hope that whatever happens doesn't lead to people losing money," he said.