First Mover: Ether Eyed as Value Play With Bitcoin Pressing $20K

Bitcoin was heading back toward the all-time high price of $19,920 notched earlier this week.

“So far, prices remain constrained, either with sellers unwilling to part with their coins at any lower price or buyers unwilling to take further bets on a rally,” Matt Blom, head of sales and trading at the cryptocurrency-focused financial firm Diginex, wrote Thursday.

In traditional markets, European shares slid and U.S. stock futures pointed to a lower open after coronavirus-related fatalities in the country surged Wednesday to at least 2,760, the deadliest day since the pandemic began. Gold strengthened 0.4% to $1,838 an ounce.

Market moves

Those new to crypto, such as the institutional investors recently buying into bitcoin’s “digital gold” narrative, might now be looking around for the next big thing.

With the long-anticipated arrival of the Ethereum 2.0 upgrade on Dec. 1, that could be the network’s native token, ether. But analysts say ether should be judged on its own merits and not as a bitcoin replacement.

“I’ve always thought this digital asset space is huge – and it’s not just bitcoin – because there are going to be different applications for different things,” Raoul Pal, CEO and co-founder of financial media group Real Vision, said in Real Vision’s documentary “Ethereum – An Investigation,” which was released on Nov. 30. “I think of the two [bitcoin and ether] as having a very nice combined asset allocation.”

eth-btc-correlation-for-muyaos-piece
Chart shows weakening but still strong correlation between prices for bitcoin and ether.
Source: CoinDesk Research

For Pal, an early bitcoin investor, the rationale seems even more plausible these days: As bitcoin’s price hits a new all-time high, the number one cryptocurrency by market capitalization is now more expensive and thus potentially a riskier bet for new investors.

It can be expected investors are looking for a new opportunity in crypto at affordable prices. Given that ether is trading roughly 59% below its all-time high of $1,432.88, it is tempting to believe there’s a bargain to be had. What’s more, the Ethereum 2.0 upgrade to increase the network’s scalability, security and energy efficiency has generated a lot of hype.

However, at least for now, analysts and traders who spoke with CoinDesk don’t think ether will replace the FOMO over bitcoin.

“For institutional investors, they are buying BTC for the digital gold narrative,” Ryan Watkins, senior research analyst at Messari told CoinDesk. “ETH just isn’t in that conversation yet.”

– Muyao Shen

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