Will Ethereum 2.0 be Ready by the End of 2020?

Lincoln Murr

The much-anticipated Ethereum 2.0 update has been right around the corner for months, but it appears that developers are finally committing to a release timeline, though not without skepticism and controversy. 

Ethereum 2.0 is the long-awaited update to the Ethereum blockchain, which promises to revolutionize the blockchain industry. The upgrade brings a new form of consensus -- proof of stake -- which allows users to use their Ethereum as collateral to secure the network and receive ETH in exchange.
Ethereum 2.0 also promises the introduction of sharding, a layer one protocol that will provide for hundreds of thousands of transactions per second which will rival centralized payment services like Visa or Mastercard.

This update has been in the pipeline since the initial Ethereum developer meeting, Devcon 0, in 2014, and has yet to be released.

The first part of this multi-phase, multi-year plan is Phase 0, which will allow users to begin staking their Ethereum to promote decentralization of the network. Though this is only the beginning of the Ethereum 2.0 upgrade, this phase has been delayed countless times and has had many setbacks. Initially, Phase 0 was set for January 13, 2020, but faced delays due to technical problems related to the centralization and security of the network.

Ethereum developer Justin Drake later said on a Reddit Ask Me Anything, or AMA, that “[he’s] hoping we can launch by July 30, 2020… it’s unlikely we will launch in Q1 or Q2 2020.”
In that same comment from February 5th, Drake boldly claimed that not launching Phase 0 in 2020 “would be a failure” and he has “95% confidence that we will launch in 2020”. Many users were skeptical, especially after the missed initial launch dates,

Release dates were not discussed much in the months preceding July, but in another Ethereum AMA on July 10, Drake was once again asked about a release date. This time, he opined that “the latest practical date for genesis is something like January 3, 2021 (Bitcoin’s 12th anniversary).” This comment sparked a lot of debate between developers and the community about when Etheruem 2.0 should be released. In direct response, Vitalik Buterin, creator of Etheruem, disagreed with Drake’s release date and “favor[s] launching phase 0 significantly before that date regardless of the level of readiness”. Buterin’s reasoning is that only 4 months were needed to go from Ethereum 1.0’s testnet to the launch, and that the stakes for Phase 0 are much lower, since dApps and tokens will not be part of Ethereum 2.0 until Phase 1. The community, starved for progress in Phase 0, immediately jumped on board with Vitalik. One day after this dialogue, another Ethereum 2.0 developer, Preston Vanloon, bet 32 Ether on decentralized prediction platform Omen that Phase 0 would launch before 2021.

As of July 23, the prediction market has over 130,000 USDC in volume for users speculating on the release of Phase 0, with 63% thinking the 2020 deadline will be met.

With this resurgence in optimism and excitement for Phase 0’s launch, Drake posted on Twitter that he has heard the community’s wishes and plans to deliver.

Then, developer Afri Schoedon, the “Pioneer of ETH2 Multi-Client Testnets,” was quoted in an interview saying, “The Ethereum 2.0 beacon chain will launch in November unless we find severe bugs in clients or protocol”. Though this is great news for the Ethereum community and more affirmation that release date in 2020 is likely, finding bugs in code is a very common occurrence. Some community members are still skeptical that this release will go as scheduled, as many have been jaded by the previous empty promises of the development team.

The most likely date for the release of Ethereum 2.0’s Phase 0 is sometime in Q3 2020, if not early Q4. However, as bugs are discovered and fixes are needed, the date will need to be changed and could end up moving into early 2021. Nonetheless, developers and community alike are optimistic about a rollout in 2020 and the beginning of a new paradigm in blockchain technology.