Ethereum’s potential to surpass bitcoin: Under evaluation

  • Ethereum’s innovative features and decentralised platform present a formidable challenge to bitcoin’s traditional role as a store of value.
  • Previous bitcoin halving events have had significant impacts on both bitcoin and ethereum prices, indicating a complex interplay between the two cryptocurrencies.
  • Ethereum’s potential for market cap supremacy hinges on factors such as the successful implementation of Ethereum 2.0, continued growth in DeFi and NFT sectors, regulatory developments, and upcoming bitcoin halvings in the future.

For years bitcoin has dominated the crypto world in terms of market capitalisation. However, Ethereum, with its innovative features and diverse applications, has been steadily winning the old guard of bitcoin devotees over, raising an intriguing possibility: could ETH emerge as the preeminent player, surpassing bitcoin in market capitalisation?

What is Ethereum?

Ethereum, spearheaded by Russian-Canadian Vitalik Buterin and a team of software developers, commenced its development in 2013, culminating in its launch in July 2015. Buterin, an early advocate of bitcoin, drew inspiration from it for the creation of Ethereum.

At its core, Ethereum functions as a blockchain platform hosting a decentralised global computer known as the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). Leveraging the collective computational power of numerous computers, Ethereum facilitates the execution of decentralised applications (Dapps) based on smart contracts.

Operating on Ethereum entails paying a ‘gas’ fee in its native cryptocurrency, Ether. It’s important to note that investors acquire Ether, not Ethereum itself, although the terms are often used interchangeably.

Also read: Ethereum ETF: What you need to know

Historical context of bitcoin halvings

Bitcoin halving events occur approximately every four years, halving the reward for mining new blocks. These events directly influence bitcoin’s supply, often resulting in price surges due to reduced supply against a backdrop of sustained or increasing demand.

The inaugural halving in 2012 saw bitcoin’s price gradually rise, although Ethereum had not yet been introduced, rendering direct comparisons moot.

The second halving occurred in July 2016, coinciding with Ethereum’s nascent stage. Despite Ethereum’s promising developments, bitcoin’s price surged post-halving, though Ethereum also experienced significant gains, driven by its burgeoning ecosystem.

The third halving in May 2020 unfolded amidst the burgeoning DeFi sector, predominantly built on Ethereum. Following the halving, both bitcoin and Ethereum witnessed substantial price hikes, with Ethereum benefitting from increased platform utilisation for DeFi applications, showcasing its potential to generate value independently of bitcoin’s market dynamics.

Bitcoin last halved on April 19, 2024, resulting in a block reward of 3.125 BTC. And the final halving is expected to occur in 2140, when the number of bitcoins circulating will reach the theoretical maximum supply of 21 million.

Also read: Bitcoin inflows hit decade low as whales sit and wait

Ethereum’s path to market cap supremacy

Several pivotal factors could catalyse Ethereum’s overtaking of bitcoin in market capitalisation:

The complete implementation of Ethereum 2.0, transitioning to a proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus mechanism, promises enhanced scalability, reduced transaction fees, and improved transaction speeds, potentially bolstering demand for Ethereum.

Continued growth in the Decentralised Finance (DeFi) and Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) sectors, primarily hosted on Ethereum, could propel ETH’s market cap, with expansions in these sectors directly benefiting Ethereum.

Differential regulatory impacts on bitcoin and Ethereum could tilt investor focus towards Ethereum, particularly post its transition to a more eco-friendly PoS consensus mechanism.

The bitcoin halving could spur price hikes, historically benefiting bitcoin. However, Ethereum’s response would depend on its evolving utility and user base, potentially indirectly benefiting from increased crypto market interest.

Also read: Ethereum earnings tripled in Q1 2024, reaching $370M

Challenges and uncertainties

Despite optimistic projections, Ethereum faces several challenges:

The transition to Ethereum 2.0 represents a monumental shift for the platform, promising scalability improvements and a more sustainable consensus mechanism through proof-of-stake. However, any delays or complications in this transition could undermine investor confidence.

The cryptocurrency market is notoriously volatile, subject to rapid price fluctuations influenced by a myriad of factors including global economic conditions, regulatory developments, and investor sentiment. Ethereum, like other digital assets, is not immune to these fluctuations, and its trajectory could be significantly impacted by sudden shifts in market sentiment or adverse economic conditions. In times of uncertainty, investors may adopt a cautious approach, affecting Ethereum’s price and market capitalisation.

While Ethereum has established itself as a leading blockchain platform, offering robust smart contract functionality and a thriving ecosystem of decentralised applications, it faces increasing competition from alternative blockchain platforms. These platforms often tout comparable or superior features, promising enhanced scalability, interoperability, or specialised use cases. The emergence of formidable competitors could divert attention and investment away from Ethereum, posing a significant challenge to its market dominance. Ethereum must continue to innovate and differentiate itself to maintain its competitive edge in the rapidly evolving blockchain landscape.


Lydia Luo

Lydia Luo, an intern reporter at BTW media dedicated in IT infrastructure. She graduated from Shanghai University of International Business and Economics. Send tips to

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