Ethereum merge delay could put its chances of overtaking Bitcoin as the top cryptocurrency at risk

 Ether has promised to do better. It has promised to go to the next level, edging out crypto rivals and even outshining the godfather, Bitcoin. But the clock's ticking. 

The number 2 cryptocurrency was supposed to be weeks away from the "merge", a transformative June upgrade of its blockchain Ethereum to make it faster, cheaper and less power hungry, holding out the prospect of a meaner and cleaner crypto future.

The anticipation had supported ether this year, even as inflation and monetary tightening shackled Bitcoin. But that merge - which would see ether mining transition away from the energy-intensive proof-of-work method to proof-of-stake - has been delayed, frustrating investors.

"The timeline for seeing this launch continues to extend," said Brendan Playford, founder and CEO of decentralised financial data platform Masa Finance.

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"It's certainly plausible that Ethereum's highly anticipated upgrade to a proof-of-stake system could be delayed again given that this transition is highly complicated and still uncertain as to whether it can actually deliver on its promise of lowering costs and increasing transaction speeds."

Ether fell 8 per cent from $3,215 to $2,947 (€3,003 - €2,752) on April 11, the day Ethereum lead developer Tim Beiko said on Twitter that the June rollout had been pushed back as tests continued. It is down 13 per cent this month, at $2,844 (€2,656)

"It won't be June, but likely in the few months after," Beiko wrote in his tweet. "No firm date yet, but we're definitely in the final chapter."

The timing of the merge - Ethereum's ETH1 chain will meld with a new chain to create ETH2 - remains unclear, although many crypto watchers expect it to happen some time this year. Beiko didn't reply to a request for comment via Twitter and LinkedIn.

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