Ethereum's Proof of Stake Testnet is Now Live, With Limited Functionality

The developers of Ethereum (ETH), the world’s largest platform for building decentralized applications (dApps), have launched an Ethereum 2.0 proof-of-stake (PoS) testnet.

According to a Medium blog post, published on May 7th, 2019, by Preston Van Loon, the co-founder of Prysmatic Labs (an organization focused on scaling the Ethereum protocol with sharding and PoS), Ethereum 2.0 will feature significant improvements in security.

One-Way Smart Contract Will Be Used To Upgrade To Ethereum 2.0

The set of upgrades associated with Ethereum 2.0 will also help achieve greater decentralization and allow the smart contract platform to scale, in order to facilitate the development of enterprise-grade dApps.

As noted in Preston’s blog, the updates related to Ethereum 2.0 will not be activated through a hard fork (backwards incompatible upgrade). Instead, value will be transferred from Ethereum’s current proof-of-work (PoW)-based blockchain to the PoS-enabled network through a one-way smart contract.

Using Shards For Parallel Processing

In addition to moving to a PoS-based blockchain, the Ethereum 2.0 upgrade will add sharding updates. These upgrades will include separate chains which manage smart contracts and transactions associated with them. A “Beacon Chain” will be used to coordinate the processes handled by the different chains (or shards).

According to Preston, “having shards [on blockchain networks] allows for horizontal scalability of the system, as transactions can be processed in parallel compared to the current Ethereum proof-of-work chain.”

Smart Contracts Not Supported On Testnet

Preston confirmed that Ethereum’s testnet is publicly accessible and that there’s also a website available which provides instructions and guidance on how to begin staking on the network.

Notably, Ethereum’s testnet does not include support for smart contracts and there’s only one client which can be used to access it.

Moreover, the overall configuration of the current testnet is reportedly a lot different from what the platform’s developers are planning to release when the Ethereum 2.0 mainnet goes live.

Staking After Ethereum 2.0 Upgrades May Not Generate Significant Profits

Recent reports suggest that staking, after Ethereum 2.0 related updates have been activated, will not yield significant profits.

According to a proposal by Ethereum co-founder, Vitalik Buterin, transaction validators on the smart contract platform may receive 5% interest (per annum) on a minimum deposit of 32 ETH, an amount currently valued at approximately $5,500. However, the net profit an Ethereum validator can expect to make, after paying for electricity consumption and the costs of hardware equipment, is estimated to be only around $41 (or a 0.8% return on investment).

Opera Launches Blockchain, Cryptocurrency-Ready Browser for iOS

Opera Ltd., the company behind the Opera browser, has recently launched a new blockchain and cryptocurrency-ready browser for iOS, following the company’s addition of a built-in cryptocurrency wallet to its Android and PC browsers.

According to a press release shared with CryptoGlobe, the company’s Opera Touch browser for iOS features “crypto wallet integration and Web 3 support,” meaning users can interact with blockchain-based applications through it, as if they were using an extension like MetaMask. The company hinted at the move in March of this year.

The company touts it now offers browsers supporting blockchain-based applications and with a built-in cryptocurrency wallet in various operating systems, including Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS, allowing users to “seamlessly interact with the next generation of Web 3 applications.”

Currently, the browser only supports ERC-20 tokens, stablecoins, and non-fungible tokens, although the company has revealed earlier this year it’s looking to add support for TRON and multiple other blockchains within a  year.

Charles Hamel, Opera’s head of crypto, stated:

We believe that all modern browsers should integrate a crypto wallet. This will enable new business models to emerge on the web. Opera is the first browser to make using crypto on the Web seamless and easy. Following a strong demand from the crypto-community, we are now making this experience available on iOS.

In the press release the company added it believes the “web of today will be the interface to the decentralized web of tomorrow,” with cryptocurrencies being at its forefront. Along with the iOS release, the company announced it partnered with a decentralized-application (dApp) called Marble.Cards, which allows users to turn unique web pages into collectible cards on the blockchain, each being a non-fungible token.

The Opera touch browser itself has a user interface built to let users use large phone screens with ease, as it shifts the navigation towards the bottom of the screen and adds features that make it easy to share pages across devices.

Opera’s main Android browser is also its cryptocurrency-ready browser for the operating system, and it has made it easier for users to buy cryptocurrencies directly from their mobile phones.