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Meme tokens: Genuine opportunity or tired joke?

No matter how loudly crypto’s opponents scream when they accuse it of being a bubble, it has a solid technical foundation and, in most cases, some kind of concept. Each new coin needs to improve on the previous ones in some way, and they usually do.

Nevertheless, there are some crypto assets that were created as a joke and offer seemingly little more than riffs on memes. The first meme coin, Dogecoin, positioned itself as a parody of Bitcoin. The basis of its creation was to use a joke coin to show everybody that investing huge sums of money in something so frivolous and unstable is absurd.

Alas, it wasn’t to be. Despite the original intent, DOGE took on a new life and began to rise in value. Elon Musk even entered the picture, writing several tweets in support of DOGE and posting memes about it. As a result, DOGE grew in value by 50% in just a few hours.

Since its launch, the DOGE coin has risen in price by 7,000%, received listings on all of the top crypto exchanges and – with enviable levels of stability – become one of the most popular cryptocurrencies in the world.

The unexpected growth in the popularity of this meme token among certain sections of the crypto community has led to the emergence of more and more new meme coins, which have begun to occupy an increasingly significant position in the crypto market. DOGE entered the top 10 list of cryptocurrencies by market capitalization, where it remains today. Today, demand for meme tokens is high and some of them are transitioning, or have already transitioned, from joke status to becoming credible pillars of the crypto industry.

Top 5 meme tokens by market capitalization

There are a large number of joke tokens in today’s market. The majority of them are a play on Dogecoin and Elon Musk. One of them – Floki – is named after a space-loving puppy and is among the top five meme coins by market capitalization. Another is the Dogelon Mars meme token, the creators of which tried to combine Dogecoin, Elon and his mission to conquer the solar system’s fourth planet into one name.

A number of meme coins feature among the largest cryptocurrencies by capitalization. According to CoinMarketCap, the five leading meme coins are DOGE, SHIB, ELON, FLOKI and BabyDoge.

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There’s also MonaCoin, Pitbull, Tamadoge, Samoyedcoin, Vita Inu and dozens of other relatively popular meme coins, with varying levels of canine inspiration.

Dogecoin, Shiba Inu and company: When the joke lands

Dogecoin and Shiba Inu are the two most popular meme tokens. They are among the top 15 cryptocurrencies by market capitalization and today are totally viable crypto assets that many investors include in their portfolios. They have created a benchmark that other meme coins are trying to reach.

Dogecoin (DOGE)

The most popular and biggest meme coin to date. Its market capitalization is over USD 12 billion.

Dogecoin is a fork of Luckycoin and Luckycoin is a fork of Litecoin. This is why some people simplify things by saying that DOGE was created on the basis of Litecoin.

The creators of Dogecoin are software engineers Billy Markus (IBM) and Jackson Palmer (Adobe). The pair launched the canine-themed coin in December 2013. Markus admitted in an interview that they created it for fun, based on the “doge” meme – an image of a Shiba Inu dog.

At present, the meme coin is supported by millions of users, DOGE has many clones, and it has birthed a popular meme token industry.

On 13 August 2022, the Dogecoin development team launched an EVM-compatible blockchain based on the Polygon SDK.

The Polygon SDK is a set of developer tools that allows you to create autonomous blockchains compatible with the Ethereum network and Layer 2 protocols.

The Dogechain infrastructure allows DOGE holders to transfer their tokens to the network and enjoy enhanced capabilities. Dogechain provides a platform for developers to build DeFi, GameFi, NFT and other DApps with DOGE as part of its core ecosystem.

The joke cryptocurrency has outlived many of its peers and is faring pretty well in 2023. It is actively promoted by Elon Mask and the prospects for Dogecoin are very much looking up. 

Shiba Inu (SHIB)

Shiba Inu is the second largest meme coin by market capitalization with a value of more than USD 6 billion. Its history is shorter than DOGE’s – the SHIB meme token was created in August 2020, based on the Ethereum network. The developers of the coin openly call it the “Dogecoin killer”, because one of the main goals of the project is to “surpass” DOGE, and to create the greatest DeCo (decentralized ecosystem) on the planet.

The first step in this direction was the creation of the ShibaSwap DEX, or decentralized exchange, which allows users to exchange coins and tokens, as well as earning through farming and liquidity mining.

As part of the development of its ecosystem, the Shiba team has also issued an NFT series called SHIBOSHIS and the new LEASH and BONE coins.

Dogelon Mars (ELON)

Another successful joke currently listed in the top 3 meme coins on CoinMarketCap with a market capitalization of more than USD 205 million is the Dogelon Mars (ELON) meme token, a fork of Dogecoin. The currency was launched on 22 April 2021.

The coin was built on the Ethereum blockchain, but has a much larger maximum supply than DOGE, making it less scarce.

Despite the popularity of this meme coin, however, many experts see Dogelon Mars as a terrible investment. There isn't really a product offering or any advantage over other more established crypto assets, and its founder appears to be impersonating Elon Musk. The volatility of Dogelon Mars is extremely high and, accordingly, the risks for investors are too.

Floki Inu (FLOKI)

Another fun dog-themed coin on the Ethereum blockchain, named after Elon Musk's Shiba Inu puppy. The token’s official documentation actually suggests that this is not a meme, but an entire movement. If Shiba is trying to kill Dogecoin, then Floki is hunting Shiba to the same end.

Floki Inu appeared in the wake of Dogecoin (by the way, there isn’t just Floki Inu, but also Shiba Floki Inu), after the Tesla and SpaceX head told Twitter users in spring 2021 – and once again at the beginning of summer, to enhance the effect – about his plans to adopt a Shiba Inu dog and name it Floki.

In September he actually got the puppy, shared his bundle of joy on Twitter and posted a photo of the pet, sending the price of Shiba Floki Inu up by 1,309%, and Floki Inu by 140%.

According to the Floki team, the long-term vision involves:

  • creating an autonomous and decentralized ecosystem;
  • boosting the meme coin’s utility; 
  • developing use cases for the Floki Uni brand through NFTs, games and DeFi functionality.

The Floki Inu team has developed the Valhalla NFT-powered metaverse, the FlokiPlace NFT marketplace, and the Floki University platform, which was set up in order to educate people about blockchains and cryptocurrencies.

Judging by the ambitions of Floki Inu, this meme coin has a very promising future.

Baby Doge Coin (BabyDoge)

A Dogecoin fork that copies the idea entirely but brings its own nuances:

  • The token was moved from the slow and expensive Ethereum to the faster and cheaper BSC;
  • The platform was one of the first to issue a cryptocurrency card;
  • Baby Doge Coin has a useful social function: it supports dogs in need.

The creators of Baby Doge Coin have a lot of ideas, and the social project seems to be the most attractive one from a marketing perspective. Crypto enthusiasts also seem to like the meme coin so far.

Understanding the role of meme coins in the crypto market

Crypto experts and market participants have not yet reached a consensus regarding the role of meme coins and their potential. Most Bitcoin fans have a negative attitude towards meme tokens, considering them to be frivolous projects that don’t create real value for their holders.

Additionally, the high volatility of this type of crypto asset and its potentially unlimited market supply could threaten the stability of the crypto market.

Volatility is a financial indicator that represents the tendency of the price of an asset to fluctuate, in this case crypto assets. The high volatility of a cryptocurrency means that its price can rise sharply in a short period of time or fall just as sharply.

A significant reliance on news, rumours, and statements from individual celebrities such as Elon Musk is also viewed negatively by many people.

Despite all of this, many crypto market participants continue to show loyalty towards meme coins. The growth of the Shiba Inu coin, which has proven the ability of projects of this kind to develop and grow into entire ecosystems, suggests that things aren’t so bad in the sector.

The incredible growth rates in the prices of some meme coins may lead you to believe that investing in one of them could help you get rich quickly. It’s important to understand, however, that investing in crypto assets of this kind is more like a lottery than an investment.

Ultimately, nobody can predict whether the next “fun” project has the power to take off or. Even if it does, no one knows when it will happen, how quickly, or how far the price will fall afterwards.

If Elon Musk wants to support a meme coin, its investors will get lucky. If he doesn’t, then not so much.

The prices of these kinds of assets are highly dependent on social media hype and support from the crypto community. If you want to try your luck, look for new and interesting projects, but you probably shouldn’t invest too much. If you’re lucky, your investment will pay off. If not, you’ll lose a small amount of money.

All things considered, we can expect the makeup of the meme coin sector to transform in tandem with changing preferences among crypto market participants, future demand for assets of this type, and the whims of Elon Musk. As of yet, no other celebrities have had such a profound influence on cryptocurrency prices.

Despite all the risks of investing in meme tokens, it seems likely that this segment will survive and expand, because it’s a game that crypto fans enjoy. The key thing to understand is that this isn’t a story of investment – it’s about gambling.