The long-awaited launch of Ethereum 2.0's Phase 0 has just happened. The planned launch date was confirmed just a week ago, as the seven-day countdown could only be initiated once a total of 524,288 Ether had been deposited in the staking contract.

The event marks the roll-out of the beacon chain — a kind of backbone for the Ethereum 2.0 network, or ETH2, with the genesis block produced at 12:00 UTC on December 1.

The beacon chain has enabled Ethereum Staking rewards for initial depositors, who had locked in more than $500 million worth of ETH in the ETH2 staking deposit contract.

A great deal of work went into Phase 0, including several testnets and audits. There's still a lot of work left to do for the full ETH2 upgrade. Of the remaining ETH2 phases, Phase 1.5 is the most crucial phase, as this is the step during which ETH1 will merge with ETH2 and move from a proof-of-work model to a proof-of-stake system. 

Overall, the ETH2 upgrade, combined with Layer-2 scaling techniques, is intended to solve Ethereum's problems for the long run. 

The launch will be especially welcomed by those in the decentralized finance community. The explosion of DeFi during 2020 saw a huge increase in traffic and gas fees on the Ethereum network.