Ethereum Testnet Successfully Processes First-Ever ETH Staking Withdrawals

An Ethererum test network (testnet) successfully simulated withdrawals of staked ether (ETH) for the first time, bringing the second-biggest blockchain yet another step closer to its historic transition to a fully featured proof-of-stake network. The upgrade was triggered at epoch 1350 at 15:00 UTC and finalized at 15:13 UTC. (10:13 ET).

The testnet, known as Zhejiang, facilitated the withdrawal simulations early Tuesday after going live last week, according to an explorer website set up to track transactions on the system. The test network is designed to provide developers with a dress rehearsal of the withdrawals similar to those that will happen on the main Ethereum blockchain following its long-awaited Shanghai upgrade, expected next month.

Read more: What Is the Ethereum Blockchain’s Shanghai Hard Fork, and Why Does It Matter?

"On the Zhejiang testnet, partial and full withdrawals as well as BLS changes are included in the execution payload," Barnabas Busa, a DevOps engineer at the Ethereum Foundation, told CoinDesk. "We have a successful fork." BLS changes allow people to change their withdrawal credentials to properly process staked ether withdrawals.

Zhejiang is the first of three testnets to run through a simulation of Shanghai. Testnets duplicate the main blockchain, and allow developers and users to test any code changes to their applications in a low-stakes environment.

The next testnet upgrade will happen sometime in the next few weeks to Sepolia, followed by Goerli.

Shanghai will be the first hard fork for Ethereum since it went through the Merge in September, which officially marked the blockchain’s transition to a proof-of-stake network. The transition made Ethereum more energy-efficient than when it used the proof-of-work system used by the Bitcoin blockchain. Under a proof-of-stake network, cryptocurrency is deposited or “staked” on the blockchain as a mechanism for helping to secure transactions.

But until the Shanghai upgrade happens, the staking mechanism is one-way – users can put ether in but can’t take it out.

The upgrade has become a highly anticipated event for the ecosystem. Crypto traders are paying attention to how Shanghai might move the market. Some traders believe that Shanghai will encourage more staking, while other traders believe that ETH will experience a price drop due to sell pressures caused when stakers rush to withdraw their long-held funds.

Update: Tuesday, February 7, 2022 15:28 UTC: Adds definition of BLS changes.