Bitcoin has dominated news about cryptocurrency forking recently, what with the advent of Bitcoin Cash and the recent revelation that a third, new type of the leading cryptocurrency is slated for launching in the months to come. Now, however, analysts and investors alike are likely to have missed the rising rumors that Ethereum, the second-largest cryptocurrency by share of market cap, is also likely to experience a hard fork. A recent report by Coin Telegraph reveals that the developer team for Ethereum has plans to launch the so-called Metropolis hard fork later this year. The split is set to occur late in the month of September, giving investors just a few weeks to prepare.

Hard Fork Anticipated Since Road Map

The Ethereum road map for 2017 was released by developers earlier this year, indicating that an impending system release would likely contin several significant upgrades for the popular platform. Since that time, investors and cryptocurrency fans have anticipated the launch of the hard fork. Now, the announcement confirms the tentative timing that was put forward in the road map, which indicated a timeframe of three-to-six months. Late September falls toward the end of that window of time.

Procedure Makes Upgrades Possible

Coin Telegraph suggests that "the new hard fork should enable some significant upgrades" to Ethereum's platform. The new "zk-SNARKs," zero-knowledge proofs, will allow users to perform transactions which are anonymous in new and more powerful ways across the platform. Additionally, smart contracts will be helped out significantly by the upgrade, which should help to relieve pressure on the current programmers. Next, there are plans to increase security across the network through a procedure known as masking. This will allow users to determine an address for which they have a private key. Finally, mining for Ether, the network's token, will become signiicantly more difficult after the upgrade. This will be a step in the transition from the original proof of work concept to proof of stake, which is slated to take over the way that Ether is mined.

There are, of course, unknowns about the effects that the hard fork will have. It's unclear, for example, if the upgrade might cause prices to go up or down. Mining is likely to slow, due to the increased difficulty, which means that prices may fall. On the other hand, if the upgrades make the Ethereum platform more friendly to users in general, and the overall user base increases, prices might rise. Beyond that, Metropolis is not the final stop on the road map. There is another upgrade, called Serenity, which is designed to make the network even more stable and attractive to outside users as well.