Validators staking Ethereum on the blockchain’s deposit contract may soon be able to withdraw their assets.
In an update on Wednesday, Ethereum developer Marius Van Der Wijden said that the multiclient withdrawal devnet had been enabled for all ETH clients.
The devnet, or developer network, will be an environment where validator staking withdrawals can be tested for the first time.
When Ethereum began its transition to Proof-of-Stake, stakers sent 524,288 ETH to a deposit contract known as the Beacon Chain to enable the parallel chain to go live. Although stakers earned rewards on their locked ETH, they were essentially sending their assets through a one-way bridge with no withdrawal feature.
At the time, Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin said the fact that people were willing to put $300 million worth of ETH in the deposit contract and “potentially never see it again” unless Ethereum delivers was “a clear sign of confidence” in the blockchain.
“In some sense, it’s the ultimate bet on progress. And I think a bet on progress, is to some extent, what Ethereum is about,” he said.
Now that a withdrawal feature is officially being tested, those validators will finally have a way to unlock their staked ETH. Still, the upgrade is only expected to go live on the mainnet with the Shanghai upgrade in the second half of 2023.
Meanwhile, the amount of ETH being staked in the deposit contract recorded a significant increase over the last few weeks. Data from CryptoQuant shows that staked ETH rose from around 14 million ETH mid-October to 15 million ETH today.
Lido, which offers liquid staking ETH, accounts for the majority of Beacon Chain staking. Data from Dune Analytics shows that the amount of ETH deposited through Lido stands at over 4.5 million.