A common critique of Bitcoin (CRYPTO:BTC) is that it is outdated technology in the fast-moving world of cryptocurrency and it will eventually be replaced by something better. There are different versions of this theory, with some saying another decentralized cryptocurrency will overtake bitcoin as the best crypto money and others saying bitcoin will eventually be made obsolete by central bank digital currencies (CBDCs).

Let's focus on the former theory. The Ethereum (CRYPTO:ETH) network's underlying ETH cryptocurrency has the most support. During the initial coin offering (ICO) bubble of 2017, various crypto market commentators claimed that ETH overtaking BTC as the largest and most popular cryptocurrency is inevitable. Although this didn't happen back then, the idea of a "flippening" taking place has gained traction once again, as the BTC-denominated price of ETH has nearly tripled so far this year.

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The argument for ETH over BTC

The main argument for Ethereum over Bitcoin is that the latter of the two cryptocurrency networks is limited by a lack of technical functionality in the form of smart contracts. Smart contracts enable advanced crypto use cases such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and decentralized finance (DeFi). Mark Cuban has pointed to these sorts of use cases as his reasoning for preferring ETH over BTC.

DeFi in particular has been the main source of attention for Ethereum over the past year or so, as various apps have enabled new ways of doing traditional financial activities like issuing assets, trading, borrowing, lending, and more. The argument is that ETH will overtake BTC as the most widely used cryptocurrency due to these additional applications.

The argument for BTC over ETH

A key argument against the idea that DeFi and other types of decentralized applications is that much of the activity on Ethereum today is likely unsustainable. Many of the Ethereum use cases that are popular today, such as stablecoins and the trading of those stablecoins against ETH, involve the reintroduction of third-party risk, which puts into question whether it makes sense to build these applications on a decentralized blockchain.

Bitcoin itself also has various solutions for implementing many of the use cases that have gained popularity on Ethereum. Sovryn is a relatively new DeFi application built on Bitcoin that combines many of Ethereum's touted use cases into a single interface. It has long been argued that Bitcoin can adopt any new tech that is developed by its competitors, and Sovryn is an illustration of that point happening right in front of our eyes.

If Bitcoin is able to adopt the features of its competitors, then the real competition between cryptocurrencies has more to do with their monetary properties than anything else. And in that department, bitcoin is still by far the most liquid, stable form of crypto money with the most credible, unwavering monetary policy.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.