What happened

As investors continue to wade in the choppy cryptocurrency waters, a few top tokens continue to generate most of the interest in this sector. Among the key tokens of note for most has been Ethereum (ETH 4.80%), given this crypto's long-awaited merge, which will shift the Ethereum blockchain to a proof-of-stake network and transform the largest decentralized finance ecosystem in substantial ways.

As of 12:30 p.m. ET, Ethereum has moved 2.8% higher over the past 24 hours. Much of this move higher appears to be tied to the upcoming Ethereum merge, which now officially has a semi-hard date of mid-September to be completed.

We're now approximately a week past the Goerli testnet merge, which was a success. However, investors have been looking forward to the next step in the official merge process, which is the TTD (or Terminal Total Difficulty), the final stage in the shift to proof-of-stake. Recent reports indicate that the TTD for this merge should be 58750000000000000000000, with many approximating Sept. 15-16 as the likely date range for the shift.

So what

This Ethereum merge has involved a number of very technical steps to move to these final stages. Three testnet merges, which were generally very successful, indicate that validators and participants are generally on board with these upgrades. With an official timeline on the table, investors stand to benefit from greater certainty, something that has become very important to Ethereum investors of late.

A series of delays with this merge has driven significant volatility in Ether prices this year. Alongside other structural concerns in the crypto space, ETH hit a low of less than $900 per token in June, before rallying to nearly $1,700 per token at the time of this writing. This strong move off the bottom suggests more confidence in the structural integrity of the crypto market, as well as more excitement than apprehension right now around the merge.

Now what

There's always the potential this final merge could result in some snags for the Ethereum network. Accordingly, there's a rather polarized view being displayed on social media between investors who are concerned about these risks, and those who are very bullish about the benefits of this merge. 

Overall, I think this merge should prove to be more bullish than bearish. That said, it's likely to be volatile times ahead for the world's second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, at least over the next few weeks.