The bitcoin price has trailed the ethereum price over the last few weeks and months as hype builds over its long-awaited major upgrade—with a potential “black swan” event coming hot on its heels.
Now, bitcoin and crypto giant Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange by volume, has revealed it’s expanding its fee-free trading to include ethereum in the run-up to and aftermath of ethereum’s merge upgrade (and after ethereum cofounder Vitalik Buterin issued an urgent update warning).
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Ethereum’s merge upgrade, scheduled to begin with the bellatrix hard fork on Tuesday and not finish rolling out until between September 10 and September 20, will mean the network moves from the energy-intensive proof-of-work consensus mechanism to the more power-efficient proof-of-stake. The switch is expected to reduce ethereum’s carbon emissions by 99%, according to the Ethereum Foundation.
Binance, which will waive fees for customers trading ethereum using Binance’s stablecoin BUSD
Following the collapse in cryptocurrency prices this year that’s led to a sharp fall in trading volumes, crypto exchanges have increasingly followed fee-free trading pioneer Robinhood in offering low or no fee crypto trading.
Binance’s move “may indeed represent somewhat of a ‘market grab’ strategy,” Sipho Arntzen, next-generation research analyst at Julius Baer, told the Financial Times, which broke the news.
“This breaking of rank by Binance may represent the beginning of a trend of fee-free trading amongst the large centralized exchanges. We may have in future a situation where fee-free trading is the norm rather than the exception, similar to what we have seen in the world of traditional finance.”
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Despite the hype of ethereum’s merge upgrade, the crypto market has stalled at just under a combined $1 trillion.
“Bitcoin remains firmly anchored to the psychologically significant $20,000 round level, changing by only fractions of a percent for almost a week,” Alex Kuptsikevich, FxPro senior market analyst, said in an emailed note. “Ethereum continues to draw green candles, but this is more than nominal growth.”
Last month, Binance followed one of its biggest rivals Coinbase in saying it will suspend ethereum deposits and withdrawals during the blockchain’s transition to its proof-of-stake (PoS) beacon chain in September.