Ethereum is having the Constantinople hard fork on 16th January and the first thing to note is that it is a hard fork so there will be a new Ethereum blockchain but its really important to point out that this is not a contentious fork. When we earlier had the Ethereum classic and Ethereum split, there was a serious disagreement on different concepts and we had two camps who went their own separate ways over that conflict.
Now with the current Ethereum hard fork, it’s not contentious, the assumptions are that the miners will be switching to the new chain, all of the current smart contracts on the current Ethereum blockchain will be replicated on the new chain. This is really about an upgrade to the Ethereum blockchain overall and not some kind of split between the community. Due to the upgrades to the Ethereum blockchain being so significant, this is why they require a hard fork. There are some major changes that are going to take place and because of that, they need to do a hard fork.
Whenever there is a hard fork, there can be a new coin created but Constantinople is an upgrade so a split is not a very probable outcome. Now there is the potential that at the 11th hour, some big mining pool could decide that they don’t like them and they want to go to their own separate direction and make a new coin. That’s possible but most likely there will be no new coins produced.
Currently, Ethereum is in an absolute critical transition phase. The transition phase is either going to make or break Ethereum in the long term. That is, of course, the move from Proof of Work to Proof of Stake. The Constantinople upgrade is a part of that upgrade. If Ethereum wants to stay the preeminent leader in the Dapp world they have to scale. We do have the layer 2 scaling solutions but the new upgrade is going to make Ethereum cheaper and faster and at the same time it will be decreasing the reward for mining down from three Ethereum a block to two Ethereum a block.
ERC20 tokens are a form of smart contracts running on the Ethereum blockchain. So they will migrate to the new chain with everything else. So there is absolutely no need to do anything. In fact, the new Ethereum improvements are going to make your ERC20 and ERC721 tokens require less gas.
Another important part of the Constantinople upgrade will be helping to optimize state channels. So we could actually really see the second layer solutions taking off in a big way. The hard fork is going to help make that process even easier.
An important thing to know that is not being included in the Constantinople hard fork even though it is being discussed at the moment is ASIC Resistance. There has been a proposal put forward to make progressive proof of work that would eventually block Asics, which are giant mining boxes or specific computers for mining cryptocurrencies. Previously, Ethereum was only mineable using a graphics card but Asics have changed the game and substantially a lot of home miners or smaller miners are very upset about these changes and do want to see the ASIC Resistance brought in but this is not going to be happening during the current hard fork.
If you are an Ethereum miner are you are mining via a pool, the pool operators will be updating the software, so again you don’t need to do anything.
Kindly beware of scams. There is already something going around called the Ethereum Nova which is basically fishing for people’s private keys and stealing money. Just remember that you don’t have to do anything specific for the Constantinople hard fork. Don’t put your private keys anywhere, there’s not going to be any free airdrop or any free tokens. These sites that you see claiming to be alternate forks are going to be nothing but scammers. So you really don’t need to do anything except to avoid giving these people your private keys so they can steal your money. Be careful!
Although you should never be storing your cryptocurrencies on an exchange as an exchange is not a safe deposit box, it is a marketplace. But if you are running trades, you can actually leave your cryptocurrencies on the exchange and they are going to be fine as all major exchanges have already come out saying that they are supporting the hard fork and they will be running the upgrade so again you don’t need to do anything.
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