EthCC5 kicks off in Paris to community’s hopes that the Merge is near

The annual Ethereum Community Conference, likely the last before the Merge, launches in Paris, with few talks on regulations and lots on Web3.

Visualisation of connections from Paris, France, to other corners of the world

Three days of talks and workshops await Ethereum enthusiasts as they gather today at the Maison de la Mutualité in Paris, France. Speaker highlights include Ethereum co-founder and member of the executive board of the Ethereum Foundation, Vitalik Buterin, Gitcoin founder Kevin Owocki, and Eli Ben-Sasson, co-founder of Ethereum’s scaling and security solutions provider StarkWare.

Across all three days, the schedule has over 200 speakers in total. The organizers expect more than 1,200 attendees in Paris, with thousands more joining in via livestream.

The Merge is coming, coming, coming

“In the fifth year of EthCC, I’m excited to see more applications going beyond crypto native audiences and introducing different focus areas like social impact, sustainability, Web3, social media and legality,” said Bettina Boon Falleur, head of EthCC. Exciting as adoption may be, however, the Ethereum community’s more bent on something else: the ever-upcoming Merge.

Read also: Ethereum Price Prediction 2023. Should I buy ETH?

The switch from energy-intensive Proof-of-Work consensus mechanism to a more environmentally-friendly Proof-of-Stake system, the Merge has seen more than one delay as Ethereum developers iron out the outstanding flaws in the plan and perform shadow forks to test the network’s performance.

After rescinding the previously announced late June date for Proof-of-Work Ethereum’s last breath, Ethereum developers signaled that the Merge could happen this autumn. A few days before the EthCC kicked off, Tim Beiko, member of the EF, said that developers were aiming to make the transition happen on September 19.

While the Merge appears explicitly in but a few of the scheduled events, it’s likely to be woven into all three days, notably Vitalik Buterin’s keynote speech on the European afternoon (or US eastern time morning) of July 21 and other talks featuring members of the EF. The EthCC’s side events, which stretch across the whole week, are also guaranteed to touch on the matter.

Talks on the Merge at the EthCC 5
Talks on the Merge at the EthCC 5. Source: EthCC 5 schedule on the event's website.

Tit for tat with Bitcoin maxis

As the date of the Merge draws near, Ethereum’s decision to transition to Proof-of-Stake is again under fire from Bitcoin maximalists, including MicroStrategy CEO and Bitcoin bull Michael Saylor.

Most recently, a comment from Bitcoin hardliner Nick Payton on the Proof-of-Stake mechanism’s purported governance structure, sparked a sarcastic response from Vitalik himself.

While hardly new, the argument is fueled by the current administrative effort to create a legal and regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies in the United States. Set in motion by President Joe Biden’s March executive order, the process involves, among other things, establishing which cryptocurrencies should be considered securities, and which commodities. Those that fall under the first category will be subject to supervision by the SEC. Those deemed commodities are to be governed by the CTFC under separate laws.

Over 30 talks on Web3

Neither EthCC5 nor the wider EthCC Week includes much content on the security-or-commodity dilemma, though. According to a press release from Ethereum France, the event will focus on emerging Ethereum-compatible technologies, mainstream adoption, and life after the Merge.

“Whatever the economic context, communities are what remains as they strive to ensure an ecosystem survives,” Ethereum France founder Jerome de Tychey said. With relatively little macroeconomic or legal content and 36 talks on the future of Web3, Ethereum is looking ahead.