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Ethereum options surge points to ‘flippening,’ but surpassing Bitcoin is likely still far off

August 1, 2022, 4:36 PM UTC
Ethereum, ether coins
Illustration by Fortune

The buzz surrounding the upcoming Ethereum “merge”—a technology upgrade that is poised to make the blockchain more efficient—has been moving the crypto market of late. This has in turn led Ethereum bulls on crypto Twitter to ask “wen flippening?”—referring to a future moment where Ether (ETH) overtakes Bitcoin (BTC) as the top coin by market cap.

Though the actual “flippening” may take a long while to happen (Bitcoin loyalists vow it never will), the options market tells a different story. Due to “bullish momentum” surrounding the Ethereum merge, Ether open options “flipped” Bitcoin open options for the first time on popular exchange Deribit, CoinDesk reported on Monday. 

Open interest options refer to the number of active derivative contracts, or the options that have been opened but not yet closed out or expired. The open interest of Ether options on Deribit was $5.7 billion this morning, 32% higher than Bitcoin options at $4.3 billion. 

“The Ethereum proof-of-work to proof-of-stake merge narrative is pulling the whole market to the upside right now,” Daniel Keller, co-founder of blockchain network Flux, told Fortune, referring to the merge. “The options markets at this point is pure speculation that ETH 2.0 will be a superior product and with that brings high risk, high reward play.”

The merge—and whether the upgrade goes smoothly–is part of that high risk, says Corey Miller, growth lead at dYdX.

“There is no question that Bitcoin’s market-driven thesis of being an inflation hedge has been dented over the last six months. Given BTC did not perform as well as many had hoped, some investors may [be] shifting their eyes to the next play,” Miller told Fortune.

The next, and final, key trial test for the merge is slated to happen between August 6 and 12. If all goes well, the real merge is estimated to occur the week of September 19, as prominent Ethereum developer Tim Beiko recently said. Up until then, it’s likely to see more price movement, and further impact on derivatives.

Nonetheless, the Ether options market “flip” and surrounding hype could just be noise for now, but if it continues, the so-called “flippening” could be more realistic than previously thought.

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