Investors expect the Securities and Exchange Commission to greenlight spot ether ETFs in May, but the price action for the crypto could be subdued compared to bitcoin’s moves in the runup to its ETF approvals. JPMorgan said that while the second largest cryptocurrency is poised to benefit from the introduction of exchange-traded funds that track its price, the drama is already a little more muted. Since Nov. 9, when BlackRock first incorporated its iShares Ethereum Trust, the price of ether rallied 20%, JPMorgan said. That compares to the 55% surge bitcoin saw after BlackRock first filed its spot ETF application for the flagship crypto. “We think the ether spot ETF is being less ‘hyped’ than its bitcoin counterpart perhaps due to its lower market cap and lack of ‘first mover advantage’ vs. bitcoin,” JPMorgan analyst Kenneth Worthington said in a note this week. “Or perhaps the market learned its lesson from the misguided hysteria around the BTC ETF. Regardless, we see the spot ether ETF being less appreciated by the market.” The lack of expected enthusiasm could stem from regulatory ambiguity around ether’s status as a security. Bitcoin’s status as a commodity versus a security has been clear, according to Nico Cordeiro, chief investment officer at Strix Leviathan. “It seems like at least at this point in time, there’s still some debate left as to what ETH gets classified as, and because there is a yield component … the SEC has a stronger case to say it’s a security versus a commodity, so that will drive some uncertainty,” he said. JPMorgan estimates a “no more than 50% chance” of spot ether ETF approval by May 23, the final deadline for the SEC to approve or deny the Ark/21Shares application . Like the SEC did with the bitcoin ETF, JPMorgan predicts the regulatory agency will take a similar approach in approving all applications at the same time, the firm said in its note this week. Owen Lau, an analyst at Oppenheimer, said there’s a “high likelihood” the ether (or ETH, the ticker by which the cryptocurrency is more commonly referred) ETF gets approved and that may already be baked into market expectations. “Compared to bitcoin I expect the hype of the ETH ETF to be milder,” he told CNBC. “Given that the market cap of ETH is only 32% of bitcoin and 16% of crypto, the amount of new money coming in could be less compared to bitcoin. But it is still another important milestone for increasing adoption.” He added that following Grayscale’s court victory over the SEC last summer, the industry now has a playbook to reference should the regulator reject ether ETFs. Gustavo Schwenkler, associate professor at the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University, echoed that sentiment, referencing another landmark court case. “Bitcoin was always clearly stated to be a commodity, Cardano and Solana were always clearly securities, but ETH was always kind of left up in the air,” he said. “But I’m not quite sure that this is where the SEC wants to take this… It would just put them in a situation again where they have to fight their position, and they just have really weak standing right now after the Ripple case and this discussion of whether tokens are securities or not.” Indeed, last summer, a judge in the Southern District of New York ruled that Ripple’s XRP token is “not necessarily a security on its face.” Schwenkler said any excitement leading up to potential ether ETF approvals will be “less speculative” and that a lot of it is priced in already. “Because we already have this lesson from bitcoin, I think the reaction is probably going to be less extreme than what we saw in bitcoin,” he said. — CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed reporting.