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Cryptoverse: Electric ether leaps on verge of Merge

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It looks like ethereum's mega-upgrade is happening. Finally.After years of delays, the "Merge" seems all but certain to take place in September, with the cryptography underlying the blockchain undergoing a radical shift to a system where the creation of new ether tokens becomes far less energy-intensive."It's an exciting time for the ethereum ecosystem," said Omar Syed, co-founder of smart contract platform Shardeum. "I think there will be drama surrounding the Merge, but I don't think there will be any technical hiccups."Investors seem to agree, with ether outstripping big brother bitcoin.Ether has seen six consecutive weeks of gains, pushing it up from a one-and-a-half-year low of US$880 in mid-June to levels closing in on US$2,000, even though it's way off its November 2021 peak of US$4,868.79.Bitcoin has paled in comparison, rebounding 37 per cent from its June low to US$24,116.Ether is gnawing away at behemoth bitcoin's market share: It now accounts for nearly a fifth - 19.7 per cent - of the total crypto market capitalisation of US$1.14 trillion, up from less than 14.9 per cent two months ago, according to CoinMarketCap.

Bitcoin's share has dropped to 40.2 per cent from 44.9 per cent in the same period."Crypto is still very tightly coupled, I think when the Merge successfully completes it could drive up the price of bitcoin as well," said Alex Miller, CEO of Hiro, which builds developer tools to create applications for bitcoin.If ethereum's creators succeed, as is largely expected, it could be a game-changer for the blockchain, making it cheaper to mine and easy to adopt for fintech and other crypto apps.Of course little is assured about the elusive transition, which has been delayed several times, with developers

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