Remember all that talk about a “flippening” last year? For a few months, if you scrolled down r/Ethereum or even it’s meme-intensive sibling r/ETHTrader, it seemed inevitable that the market cap of Ethereum would pass that of the current top dog in crypto – Bitcoin. The general consensus of both forums was sooner, rather than later, too.
However, several months on and the change in the prices of these two digital assets tells a different story. Ethereum has dropped from around $1,390 to about $385. The all-time high was over 3.6x greater than the price today. Meanwhile, Bitcoin fell from a high of around $19,974 to around $6,930 at the time of writing. This high is just over 2.88x greater than today’s price. Clearly, therefore, people are losing confidence in Ethereum faster than they are with Bitcoin.
Is a “Flippening” Still Possible?
When comparing the figures of last year’s speculative mania across all of cryptocurrency, it’s important to remember it was just that – a speculative mania. Whilst both Bitcoin and Ethereum did make some technological improvements and greater cases of adoption were reported in both digital assets, neither price spikes were warranted by any sort of fundamental change in either protocol.
Sure, the partial resolution to the scaling debate in Bitcoin called for an increase in price that mirrored the asset’s greater utility. However, according to researchers at BitMEX, the SegWit upgrade last summer has had an immediate impact of around a 41% free reduction for users making the switch. Whilst fees will continue to decrease as more users and institutional bodies (such as Coinbase) adopt it, it hardly warrants a price increase from the $2,700 range to near $20,000. Evidently, a lot of the money flowing into the market during the latter part of 2017 came from folks who cared little about the technology or its implications. These investors just wanted to make a quick buck.
Ethereum’s rise from the start of 2017 to its high point was even more pronounced. This is likely because many who felt they had “missed the boat” on Bitcoin spied a second chance for meteoric gains. It was also driven by ICO investors and contributors. However, without as solid a bedrock of believers in the Ethereum project as Bitcoin, and the ICO funding method coming under regulatory scrutiny along with many contributors being burned in scams, ETH buying pressure has largely dried up. This leaves companies, both legitimate and corrupt, with lots of Ether to cash in. Such selling pressure without equal or greater buying can send the price in one direction only – downwards.
Whilst there are undoubtedly more reasons for the current sell-off in Ether than there are for Bitcoin, this doesn’t mean that a “flippening” cannot happen. It does, however, seem a distant prospect right now.
When considering such a likelihood, it’s important to remember that both projects have very different aims. Ethereum seeks to be a sort of decentralised supercomputer for applications to run on. Bitcoin, meanwhile, is simply digital cash or gold. The market may eventually decide that one of these use cases is more valuable than the other. It may also decide that one of Ethereum’s competitors serves the purpose better than the current market leader for decentralised app creation.
The fact is, along with these radically different use cases, each project faces their own hurdles. The most pronounced of these are currently competition and technological limitations. It therefore seems folly to state a price target for either Ether or Bitcoin. Granted, both projects have a lot of upside potential, but it is nothing more than that at the moment. With the “get rich quick” crowd being brutally burned thus far in 2018, it will take a real fundamental change to initiate the kind of growth required for there to be a change in the current crypto pecking order. Remember, there are no guarantees in this market, least of all a guaranteed “flippening”.