Ethereum, the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, saw its price surge 2.90% over the past 24 hours to $1,669.56. This price increase comes after a period of sideways trading for ETH over the past month.
The 24-hour trading volume for ETH stands at a substantial $4.39 billion, indicating strong interest in the cryptocurrency at current price levels. Ethereum's market capitalization now stands at $200.65 billion, cementing its position as the premier smart contract and DApp development platform.
Several factors appear to be contributing to Ethereum's upside price breakout:
Upcoming Network Upgrades Support Bullish Sentiment
The Ethereum community is gearing up for a major network upgrade named Shanghai, which is scheduled to go live in March 2023. Shanghai will introduce key improvements like lowered transaction fees and increased throughput.
This upgrade follows previous successful upgrades like The Merge which transitioned Ethereum to a proof-of-stake consensus in September 2022. The ongoing upgrades make Ethereum more scalable, secure and sustainable. Investors are becoming bullish on ETH in anticipation of the positive impact of Shanghai on the network.
DeFi Activity on Ethereum Remains Strong
Decentralized finance (DeFi) applications continue to thrive on Ethereum, with over $22 billion worth of crypto assets locked in DeFi protocols. Major DeFi platforms like Uniswap, Aave and MakerDAO depend on the Ethereum blockchain.
The sustained high levels of DeFi yields and trading volumes demonstrates the sturdy developer ecosystem and user adoption on Ethereum. This strengthens its prospects as the leading smart contract platform, instilling confidence in ETH.
Burning of ETH Tokens Reduces Circulating Supply
A key feature of the proof-of-stake Ethereum network is the burning of ETH tokens with every transaction. Over 1.1 million ETH tokens worth $1.8 billion have been burned since The Merge. This reduces the circulating supply of ETH, increasing its scarcity value.
The accelerating burn rate has so far outpaced the issuance of new ETH tokens as rewards to validators. Decreased token availability exerts upward pressure on ETH's price and makes it deflationary in the long run.
ETH Shows Relative Strength in a Weak Market
The overall crypto market has been sluggish over the past few months weighed down by macroeconomic headwinds. Even Bitcoin has struggled to break out above the $20k resistance level.
Against this backdrop, Ethereum's~3% single-day rally and 4.56% weekly gains highlight its relative strength. ETH appears to be decoupling from BTC's price moves, underlining its status as an independent asset class within crypto. This is attracting institutional capital.
Technical Analysis Indicates Room for Further Upside
On the technical charts, Ethereum broke out cleanly through its 50-day exponential moving average of $1,650. This signaled the end of the short-term downtrend. The breakout was backed by high trading volumes, indicating genuine buying interest.
The upward momentum was strong enough to push ETH above the key psychological resistance at $1,700 as well. The technical landscape now points to limited overhead resistance ahead. ETH could rally towards the next target at $1,800 over the coming week if bullish momentum sustains.
Ethereum Price Prediction for 2023
Based on both the fundamental developments and technical analysis, I expect Ethereum's price to continue its upward trajectory over the coming 6-12 months. Here are some key factors that could shape ETH's price action in 2023:
Network Upgrades and Growing Adoption Expand Use Cases
Upgrades like Shanghai will solve Scalability issues and reduce costs, enabling wider adoption of DeFi and dApps. Mainstream tech firms like Google and Microsoft are integrating Ethereum for cloud services and digital identity. These will expand Ethereum's utility and value.
Declining Inflation Improves Macro Outlook
As central banks get inflation under control, economic uncertainty will reduce. Risk assets like crypto could benefit from improving sentiment. Ethereum stands to gain the most as the dominant smart contract platform.
Competitors Lag in Development
Rival layer-1 blockchains have failed to keep pace with Ethereum's development. Fragmented DeFi/dApp ecosystems dilute network effects. First-mover advantage and deep liquidity will help ETH stay ahead.
Taking these factors into account, I expect Ethereum to trade between $2,500 to $3,000 by end of 2023. This implies 50% - 80% upside from current prices over the next 15 months. Of course, another black swan event leading to broad-based liquidation of crypto assets is a risk to the upside outlook.
Will Rising Interest Rates Limit Ethereum's Price Growth in 2023?
Interest rates have risen sharply globally in 2022 to combat multi-decade high inflation. The US Federal Reserve has been most aggressive with a cumulative 200 basis points hike so far in 2022, taking the Fed Funds rate to 3.00% - 3.25%. Further hikes are likely over the next few quarters.
Higher interest rates have two implications for speculative assets like cryptocurrencies:
- They increase the opportunity cost of holding ETH and other cryptos which do not pay a yield. Investors are drawn towards fixed income assets like bonds, CDs and cash savings accounts which will now generate higher risk-free returns.
- More importantly, higher rates make borrowing expensive. Since a lot of capital inflow into the crypto markets is leveraged, higher rates adversely impact sentiment and prices.
However, the impact of rising interest rates needs to be put in perspective for Ethereum:
- Rate hikes have already been significantly priced in, limiting downside.
- ETH itself has a positive yield now via staking rewards and token burns.
- As a yield-bearing asset, ETH compares favorably to bonds if bought at current prices.
- Crypto markets have historically bounced back smartly from interest rate tightening cycles.
Hence, I do not expect rising rates alone to cap Ethereum's price performance over the long term. Periodic volatility is possible but the secular crypto adoption trend remains intact.
Is Ethereum at Risk of Losing Market Share to Newer Cryptocurrencies?
Ethereum has dominated the smart contract and DApp development space since its inception. However, a slew of competing layer-1 blockchain networks have emerged over the last 2-3 years like Solana, Avalanche, Polygon and BNB Chain.
These bill themselves as faster and cheaper alternatives to deploy decentralized apps. Are they a threat to Ethereum becoming obsolete? There are a few factors that should preserve ETH's competitive edge:
- Ethereum maintains a huge lead in developer tools, documentation, and support. The ecosystem depth takes years to build and gone enormous network effects.
- Increasing scalability via sharding and high liquidity makes Ethereum hard to displace as the preferred dApp deployment blockchain.
- Interoperability solutions are being built so projects can leverage the strengths of multiple chains. This will reduce the need for a zero-sum battle amongst layer-1s.
- ETH remains the reserve asset backing most DeFi protocols across chains. Its liquidity and collateral value are unmatched currently.
While the market share of other layer-1 chains will grow, Ethereum's dominant position looks unlikely to be upended anytime soon. Even if its share of dApps reduces, the rapid overall growth in crypto adoption can lift all boats over the long term.