The Bitcoin (CRYPTO: BTC) price is down just over 2% since this time yesterday, currently trading for US$22,907 (AU$32,680).
Despite the retrace, both tokens remain significantly up from their levels of 1 July.
On 1 July the Bitcoin price stood at US$18,763. Meaning it's gained an impressive 22% since then.
But the Ethereum price has done far better, charging 56% higher from the US$1,013 it was worth on 1 July, according to data from CoinMarketCap.
So, can the world's number two token by market valuation dethrone the world's first and still largest crypto?
Will there be a 'flippening' if the Bitcoin price continues to lag?
In crypto circles, Ethereum's potential to overtake Bitcoin is known as the flippening.
While the past month's price action narrowed the gap between the two tokens, there's still a big bridge between them.
At the current Bitcoin price, the token has a market cap of US$438 billion. That compares to a market cap of US$193 billion for Ethereum.
Whether a flippening is on the horizon and just when that might happen depends on who you ask.
Ethereum fans point to the upcoming 'Merge' as likely to offer strong tailwinds for the crypto.
The Merge will see the Ethereum blockchain shift from a proof-of-work to a proof-of-stake protocol. This will significantly reduce the amount of computing power needed to verify transactions, reducing costs and greatly slashing energy use.
The merge is now slated to come into fruition in September after years of delays, with testing ongoing.
Bitcoin is likely to keep using its proof-of-work protocol, which has seen the Bitcoin price come under pressure amid revelations of the tremendous amount of energy required to maintain the blockchain.
What the experts are saying
As mentioned above, the experts are split on their outlook on Ethereum dethroning Bitcoin and on the power of the merge.
Quantum Economics CEO Mati Greenspan said (quoted by Bloomberg):
I keep hearing people repeating the question, 'wen flippening? Even though there's no guarantee this will ever happen, just looking at the numbers, it does seem like this event is getting closer by the day.
Joe DiPasquale, CEO of BitBull Capital, is also optimistic on the outlook for Ethereum.
"We do like Ether, and we think it's a major differentiator," he said. "Bitcoin has been the hundred-pound gorilla, but Ether is really the other hundred-pound gorilla. Everything else trails behind."
Rounding off the Ethereum bulls is Bodhi Pinkner, an analyst at Arca, who said it's very possible for the number two crypto to unseat Bitcoin. "We have a favourable view of Ethereum," he said.
Pinker said Ethereum will become a deflationary asset once the Merge is complete. "So that changing dynamic bodes theoretically well for Ethereum's price relative to Bitcoin, especially in an environment of tightening."
Henry Elder, head of decentralized finance at Wave Financial, isn't convinced we'll see a flippening anytime soon.
According to Elder (courtesy of Bloomberg):
The Merge is over-hyped from an ETH price-perspective. It's an incredibly important technological change for Ethereum, but 99.99% of users will experience no difference whatsoever until months or years later. Meanwhile, the impacts of reducing and reallocating issuance will take a while to filter down to ETH prices.
Elder likened the likely impact of the Merge to the Bitcoin halving process.
The Bitcoin price also tends to increase following the pre-programmed halving dates. These occur every four years and cut the reward for Bitcoin mining in half. That's meant to be deflationary and maintain scarcity.
But as Elder pointed out, the impact on the Bitcoin price following a halving may not be seen in the market for months.
"I wouldn't be surprised to see [Ethereum] prices pump into the Merge, but I don't think it's a sustainable catalyst until the second half of 2023," Elder said.