The ETF showdown: Bitcoin’s store of value vs Ethereum’s technological utility

Over the previous couple of months, the crypto web has been dominated by the Bitcoin ETF discuss. And for an excellent cause. At a $835.7 billion market cap, the pioneering crypto makes up 49% of the whole crypto market, consisting of tens of hundreds of tokens.

In Bitcoin’s 15-year life cycle, an exchange-traded fund (ETF) represents a pivotal divergence, a milestone in legitimacy. As soon as derided as “fraud” akin to tulip mania, “rat poison,” or “index of money laundering”, Bitcoin’s entry into the ETF area discards these notion rags and replaces it with a model new coat.

Lengthy-Time period Trickling from a Deep Pool

Having the blessing of the Securities and Trade Fee (SEC) signifies that establishments can begin apportioning their capital right into a high-yielding asset. Bitcoin suits the invoice as a result of, much more so than gold, its provide is affixed, and regardless that Bitcoin is digital, it’s grounded in physicality through the proof-of-work mining community.

As of October 2023, US ETFs have $5.6 trillion worth of equities. Even in low single-digit percentages, capital trickling into Bitcoin is poised to create a rising tide, a suggestions loop owing to Bitcoin’s restricted provide. With out the trouble of custodianship, buyers get publicity to this tide, represented as ETF shares that observe Bitcoin’s spot value.

Only one such Bitcoin ETF applicant is BlackRock. The world’s largest asset supervisor had already lined up capital to the tune of $2 billion, in accordance with sources.

Following the approvals on January eleventh, an anticipated sell-pressure transpired in a traditional “sell the news event,” bringing the BTC value down -7.4% over the week. But, launching a brand new funding car has been profitable, tracking over $1.4 billion in AuM and $3.6 billion in quantity in simply two days.

However what of Bitcoin’s long-following shadow, Ethereum? Having transitioned from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake, the Ethereum undertaking is perceived fairly otherwise from Bitcoin. What are these variations and the way would they mirror on their respective ETF funding autos?

The Store of Value: Bitcoin within the Spot ETF Market

For a few years, it was not clear what Bitcoin would turn out to be. In any case, Bitcoin underwent over 100 arduous forks, splintering the original whitepaper imaginative and prescient of a “purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash”.

Following the decision of Bitcoin’s contentious block measurement wars in 2017, the Small Blockers faction received. As a substitute of growing block measurement outright, they opted for comfortable Bitcoin scaling through the SegWit improve. This veered Bitcoin’s destiny right into a store-of-value asset as a substitute of a low-friction P2P digital money.

Exhausting limitations make it unimaginable to have it each methods. If the big block measurement faction had received, extra computing energy and bandwidth would have been required to run full mining nodes, resulting in community centralization and potential transaction censorship.

Alternatively, smaller blocks retain decentralization however make it troublesome to scale on-chain. As fewer transactions match inside a block, greater community exercise results in greater switch charges as a result of ready traces are shaped. And if BTC switch charges go up, Bitcoin’s each day foreign money proposition is diminished.

A minimum of, with out utilizing layer 2 scaling options just like the Lightning Community, harnessed by fee apps like Strike. Such fee programs can make the most of Bitcoin as a car to switch money and interface with the prevailing banking system.

In the long run, Bitcoin cemented its place as true sovereign cash, peer-to-peer however not inherently low friction. Somewhat, Bitcoin is the inspiration for a monetary edifice to be constructed upon. Within the age of steady fiat foreign money debasement through central banking, decentralized sovereignty overrides low friction, portray Bitcoin as a financial escape hatch.

For individuals accustomed to fiat cash erosion, it is a novel idea. But, Bitcoin ETF candidates are actually incentivized to carry that idea within the public highlight.

This aggressive advertising push alone is poised to deepen the capital pool for Bitcoin publicity. And the deeper it will get, the upper the Bitcoin value will possible go, making a suggestions loop of extra capital inflows.

Ethereum’s Technological Utility: Past Mere Funding

Whereas Bitcoin pioneered the idea of blockchain-based sovereign cash, Ethereum is a work-in-progress infrastructure layer. One which onboards digital belongings and supplants conventional monetary companies.

This function drove Ethereum’s proof-of-stake transition, as such blockchain networks depend on financial stakes as a substitute of energy-hungry computing energy. Nonetheless, having a negligent vitality footprint (in comparison with Bitcoin) is just the scaling start line.

Every day operational monetary infrastructure necessitates low friction (minimal charges) to be accessible and to actually tackle TradFi. Ethereum is but to realize low friction, relying as a substitute on many layer 2 scaling options.

This turned even clearer within the newest roadmap, emphasizing Ethereum interoperability and safety towards cyber attacks, as a substitute of L1 scaling for low transaction charges.

This method poses two main issues:

  1. By ditching proof-of-work, the Ethereum blockchain turns into reliant on giant stakeholders and cloud computing companies equivalent to Amazon Internet Companies (AWS). This reduces Ethereum’s notion as a decentralized community that could possibly be a real TradFi substitute.
  2. In flip, Ethereum positioned itself amongst different PoS community options, with related centralization points However these have been constructed from the bottom up for L1 scaling, with out the additional L2 scaling complexity for the top consumer to interface with.

On this cycle, this dynamic turned extra evident. Regardless that ETH is the second largest cryptocurrency by market cap, it lagged behind Bitcoin at +64% year-over-year efficiency. Ethereum lagged tremendously behind its direct opponents Avalanche (AVAX) at +118% YoY, and Solana (SOL) at +321% YoY efficiency.

Ethereum’s lackluster efficiency transpired regardless of having a fair decrease inflation charge than Bitcoin. This might point out that Ethereum’s notion is rather more precarious than Bitcoin’s, which has a extra coherent and centered “sound money” proposition.

That proposition shouldn’t be duplicatable resulting from Bitcoin’s mining community impact. As an example, if Bitcoin code have been to be tweaked to turn out to be a PoS chain, per the choice of Greenpeace, it could merely be a useless code with out the community onboarders.

Ethereum’s community impact stems from holding dApp domination amongst PoS chains. But, it isn’t clear if that domination is not going to shift to AVAX, SOL or one other PoS community. Moreover, whereas it’s clear that Bitcoin is considered as a commodity by regulatory our bodies, Ethereum continues to be within the fog of regulatory obfuscation.

Market and Regulatory Dynamics

As of date, SEC Chair Gary Gensler hasn’t explicitly introduced whether or not ETH is a safety or a commodity. By the most recent hypothesis, Bloomberg ETF analyst James Seyffart thinks that the SEC is leaning within the commodity designation by already approving Ethereum future ETFs in August.

James Seyffart at CryptoQuant webinar on January 4th:

“So again, Gary Gensler will not explicitly say whether Ethereum is a security or a commodity, but in their action, by approving those Ethereum futures ETFs, they’re implicitly accepting those Ethereum futures as commodities futures.”

Different PoS chains like SOL, ADA and AVAX are in the identical regulatory uncertainty boat. In final 12 months’s lawsuit towards Coinbase, the SEC named all of them as “crypto asset securities.” If Seyffart is appropriate, and ETH turns into a commodity per the choice of CFTC, this might give Ethereum an edge over its opponents.

Presently, spot-traded Ethereum ETFs are delayed till Might 2024, from Grayscale Ethereum Futures ETF to Hashdex Nasdaq Ethereum ETF. Likewise, the SEC pushed back Cathie Wooden’s ARK Make investments, 21Shares and VanEck’s Ethereum ETF.

Given the restricted market liquidity, in comparison with the Fed cash provide extravaganza in 2021, Bitcoin is poised to be the better beneficiary of the primary transfer benefit than Ethereum.


There’s a cause why the SEC didn’t approve a single spot-traded Bitcoin ETF for the reason that first utility by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss in 2013. Not solely was Bitcoin much less mature, however the banking sector wouldn’t give a leg as much as its P2P competitors.

Since these days, Bitcoin has overcome its underground, tulip, cash laundering detractors. The digital asset is now secured by the world’s strongest computing community, erecting an ecosystem of mining corporations. This additional bolstered investor confidence resulting from Bitcoin’s conservative coding practices.

Alternatively, Ethereum is perceived as a extra patchworked crypto undertaking but to entrench itself as a DeFi vanguard to sort out TradFi. Burdened with technical and regulatory uncertainty, conservative Bitcoin is a far likelier candidate to obtain sustained retail and institutional consideration from the primary ETF car.

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