After a call on Thursday, developers working on the eagerly anticipated “Shanghai” upgrade to the Ethereum network chose to prioritize allowing users to withdraw their “staked” Ether over a number of other possible improvements in order to meet the newly imposed March 2023 deadline. 

“Proof-of-Stake” was introduced earlier this year, replacing the computationally intensive “Proof-of-Work” as the means of validating the Ethereum blockchain and allowing users to deposit Ethereum in return for yield. Withdrawal of the staked Ether, however, has not yet been included as a feature, and developers are hoping to roll it out as quickly as possible. 

Some validators have been staking ETH for more than two years, since the launch in 2020 of the Beacon Chain, the first phase of the parallel blockchain that kicked off Ethereum’s transition to Proof-of-Stake.

But many of those staking ETH in the deposit contract have been doing so without any end date in sight to withdraw their assets.

“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,” said Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin in December 2020.

Staking withdrawals began to look more like a reality earlier this year, when developers enabled multi-client withdrawals on the testnet for all ETH clients.

Tim Beiko, protocol support lead at the Ethereum Foundation, said that the general consensus among developers was that enabling withdrawals with Shanghai should be made a priority even if it meant that support for other improvements included in the critical Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) 4844 would only be introduced later.

EIP 4844 will introduce a number of improvements to scalability. Chief among them is a feature known as “proto-danksharding,” which is able to process batches of off-chain transactions, or rollups, much more efficiently. That in turn would lead to increased transaction speed and less crippling gas fees. 

Ethereum developer Péter Szilágyi opined that EIP 4844 should be implemented alongside the withdrawal feature, fearing that not doing so could delay the feature’s implementation till fall 2023. However, the majority of developers ultimately agreed that withdrawals would go first, followed by another fork to implement EIP-4844.