Ethereum Network Suffers Finality Issues—Here’s What That Means

Ethereum, the world’s second largest blockchain by cryptocurrency market cap, suffered a technical issue on Friday, causing its network to halt finalizing blocks for more than an hour.

Finality takes roughly 15 minutes, and refers to the guarantee that a block cannot be altered or removed from the blockchain without burning at least 33% of the total staked ETH, according to the Ethereum Foundation.

The network lost finality for roughly an hour midday Friday, in what appears to be the second issue of its kind in 24 hours. On Thursday, blocks were being proposed but not validated during a 25-minute window on Thursday. 

The cause of these outages still remains unclear, which has spurred many in the crypto community to take to social media to discuss and try to figure out what went wrong.

Prominent venture capitalist and Ethereum supporter Adam Cochran tweeted out: “ETH beacon chain finality has now failed for over an hour, we’re at inactivity leak time and there is no denying this is now a liveness fault. Hoping that this is just an implementation issue for a single client to fix and not a larger protocol issue… either way, not good.”

Others, however, aren’t so concerned. Ethereum core developer Eric Conner said on Twitter that the network “did not go down,” but rather that there was a bug in some clients that has already been fixed.  

The finality issue, regardless of its origin or duration, remains controversial. Despite transactions appearing to process, the fact they don’t get finalized can mean they can potentially be re-ordered or simply ignored.

Pseudonymous Ethereum builder Superphiz tweeted a contradictory warning claiming that the second wave was over, but for users to expect a third.

“But don’t worry too much,” he said. “As bad as this looks, the chain keeps going and eventually finalizes.”

As of this writing, the network is up and running again at full capacity, with blocks being finalized, although users and developers remain on alert.