The Shapella hard fork has officially been executed on the Ethereum mainnet — meaning that Ethereum validators can finally withdraw their staked Ether (ETH) from the Beacon Chain.
The long-awaited upgrade took effect at 10:27 pm UTC on April 12 at epoch number 194,048.
Within the first hour of the hard fork, a total of 12,859 Ether were unlocked in 4,333 withdrawals, according to Ethereum block explorer beaconchai.in.
Currently, around 44% of validators, or 248,043 of the total active 559,549, can request a partial or full withdrawal.
The majority of withdrawals at this time range between 2.8 to 3.2 ETH, which suggests that it’s mostly staking rewards that are being withdrawn at this time.
The Ethereum Shapella upgrade has been activated and withdrawals are processing! pic.twitter.com/Krly5GB2K7— eric.eth (@econoar) April 12, 2023
The withdrawals come as only 3,996 validators signed up to the exit queue moments before the Shapella hard fork took effect, according to data from Rated Network Explorer.
Of the total amount of withdrawable Ether, crypto exchange Huobi holds the largest share at 30%, followed by the decentralized autonomous organization PieDAO at 17.7%, according to data from blockchain analytics firm Nansen.
A total of 284,622 Ether is awaiting a full withdrawal from 7,948 validators, Nansen data shows.
The price of Ether, currently $1,920, has barely moved within the first hour of the hard fork something which was predicted in an April 11 report from blockchain intelligence platform Glassnode.
The hard fork can theoretically unlock 18.1 million Ether on the Beacon Chain currently equating to over $34.8 billion, however, several mechanisms are in place to prevent a flood of ETH from hitting the market, according to the Ethereum Foundation.
Related: Less than 1% of staked ETH estimated to sell after Shanghai upgrade: Glassnode
In its report, Glassnode estimated that less than 1% of that total would be released over the first week and the 12,859 Ether unlocked within the first hour only represents 0.07% of the total Ether staked in the Beacon Chain.
withdrowls on pic.twitter.com/0rdy49SHh2— mariano.eth | (@nanexcool) April 12, 2023
Through Ethereum Investment Proposal EIP-4895, staked Ether was pushed from the Beacon Chain to the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) otherwise known as the execution layer, making withdrawals possible.
It is the most significant upgrade since the Merge on Sept. 15 and it moves Ethereum one step closer towards a fully functional proof-of-stake system.
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Update (April 12, 11:52 pm UTC): This article has been updated to include Ethereum validator withdrawal figures immediately following the Shapella hard fork.
Update (April 13, 12:20 am UTC): This article has been updated with further information, metrics and background information.