Meme coins have made a massive impact on the cryptocurrency market and have become an inseparable part of it.
It’s perhaps safe to say that Dogecoin was the one meme coin that gave birth to a movement that would later grow to a multi-billion market with a community as passionate as none other.
Dogecoin is no longer the only meme coin worth looking into, as the likes of Shiba Inu (SHIB) have also taken center stage.
The following takes an in-depth look at meme coins, what they are, how they differ from regular cryptocurrencies, which are the largest meme coins, and some of the most frequently asked questions about them.
So buckle up, and let’s dive in.
What is a Meme Coin?
First things first, a meme coin is a type of cryptocurrency – a subsection of the industry of sorts.
In essence, a meme coin is a cryptocurrency that originated from some sort of internet meme or has another humorous characteristic.
All meme coins are cryptocurrencies, but not all cryptocurrencies are meme coins.
The above rule of thumb is a good starting point, but it’s also very generalized. That said, as the name suggests, a meme coin has some sort of meme culture embedded into its overall design. Some teams are even incorporating memes into the technical design of their token. For example, they would make it so that the maximum supply is 420 billion tokens or 69 billion tokens – all based on the meme numbers 4:20 and 69, for example.
Some of the more popular examples include Dogecoin (DOGE), Shiba Inu (SHIB), Floki Inu (FLOKI), and others. These are all themed around the doge meme.
But that’s not all. Another huge group of meme coins and meme cryptocurrency projects, such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), are centered around the popular internet meme – Pepe the Frog. The largest project is called PEPE.
Meme coins are just as real as any other cryptocurrency, they are typically built on popular layer-one networks such as Ethereum, Solana, and Polygon. However, some of them, like Dogecoin – have their very own networks designed for them.
While most coins tend to focus on some sort of utility, meme coins, for the large part, focus on getting viral through the explosive nature of memes and how quickly they spread.
Therefore, it’s time for an important disclaimer. Meme coins are volatile and inherently risky. Users are strongly advised to consult a professional before investing in meme coins. Never invest more than you can afford to lose.
How Do Meme Coins Work?
Meme coins work like regular tokens that are built on top of layer-one blockchains, with small exceptions. The wide majority of them are built on Ethereum using the ERC-20 smart contract standard.
The most obvious exception is Dogecoin. It has its native blockchain that, in some ways, mimics that of Bitcoin. It’s based on a proof-of-work consensus algorithm, but it has an unlimited inflationary supply, unlike Bitcoin’s capped supply.
Other meme coins, such as Shiba Inu (SHIB), are creating their own ecosystems and building side projects to provide additional value and engage their users.
In general, though, meme coins rely mostly on the power of the meme they are based on to build a strong community that’s passionate about it and to capture investment interest.
Are Meme Coins Safe?
Because meme coins are centered around the virality of the meme they’re based on, they also tend to be a lot more volatile compared to traditional altcoins.
For example, PEPE coin went from being worth literally $0 to achieving a market capitalization of almost $2 billion in the span of less than a month in 2023. This is an astronomical growth that is hard to even comprehend. The meme coin went on to lose more than 70% since its all-time high just weeks after that. This should give you an idea of how volatile and risky meme coins can be.
In terms of technological safety, they should be treated like any other altcoin on the market. Investors should make sure they have done sufficient due diligence to ensure they’re not putting their hard-earned money into a rug pull. Speaking of rug-pulls – there are a lot of them in the meme coin field, so make sure to be extremely careful.
Meanwhile, it’s also highly advisable that you take a look at these guides:
Common Characteristics of Meme Coins
Albeit different by design and compared to other cryptocurrencies, meme coins share some similar characteristics.
A lot of them are built on top of a layer-one network.
All of them are based on a popular internet meme or humorous element.
Most of them focus heavily on the social side of growth.
The biggest meme coins have incredibly dedicated communities.
Their prices tend to be incredibly volatile.
These are just some of the common characteristics that most meme coins share.
The Biggest Meme Coins
There are probably thousands of meme coins out there, and a new one is being created every day. However, there are a few that have managed to stand the test of time or have exploded into the mainstream in a way that has cemented their place as a big meme coin. Here are three examples of the biggest meme coins.
Dogecoin (DOGE) is the original meme coin. Founded as a joke back in late 2013, it is now the biggest meme coin by means of total market capitalization as of writing these lines in 2023 – ten years later.
It was created by Billy Marcus and Jackson Palmer. The former claimed that he sold all of his DOGE in 2015.
Here are 5 facts about Dogecoin that you might not have known.
Dogecoin has received tremendous support from its community, especially after Elon Musk started following the project and even putting efforts into developing it. A representative of him, alongside another prominent figure in the cryptocurrency space – Vitalik Buterin – is part of the Dogecoin Foundation and is supposedly working toward improving Dogecoin altogether.
It’s one of the few meme coins that has its own blockchain that’s based on the proof-of-work consensus algorithm – similar to Bitcoin. Dogecoin, however, has an inflationary design and unlimited supply.
Shiba Inu (SHIB)
Shiba Inu (SHIB) was launched a lot later than Dogecoin, but it’s perhaps safe to say that it was inspired by it. It also relies on the Doge meme.
According to its “woofpaper,” Shiba Inu (SHIB) represents “an experiment in decentralized spontaneous community building.”
It’s safe to say that the experiment was successful because SHIB has become the world’s second-largest meme coin by means of both market cap and community.
The team has also launched a decentralized exchange called ShibaSwap, while also working on numerous NFT initiatives, a metaverse-based platform, and many more.
SHIB exploded in popularity in 2021, during the bull market, when it achieved a market cap of over $70 billion. While it’s nowhere near that number right now, the same is true for most of the coins, but it goes to show how viral meme coins can get.
PEPE Coin (PEPE)
PEPE coin is the latest meme coin to become tremendously viral. The cryptocurrency was created in April 2023, and by the end of the month and the beginning of the next one, it was already at a $2 billion market cap.
The tremendous interest in PEPE got it listed on all major exchanges, including Binance.
PEPE is based on the popular meme – Pepe the Frog, and it’s designed to be “the most memeable memecoin in existence.” We’ve prepared an entire video explainer if you wish to find out more:
Frequently Asked Questions
With all of the above out of the way, let’s look at some of the most frequently asked questions about meme coins.
What is meme coin used for?
Most meme coins don’t have a specific purpose, unlike traditional altcoins. Instead, they are used as tools to build massive and wildly dedicated communities, oftentimes reaching hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people. Nevertheless, some meme coins like DOGE are used as a relatively common means of payment.
What makes a coin a meme coin?
The most obvious characteristic of a meme coin is that its general concept and go-to-market strategy are based on a popular internet meme. They also include very humorous elements embedded in their essence.
Which meme coin will reach $1?
We have yet to see which meme coin will reach $1. So far, the only meme coin that came close to reaching $1 was DOGE. Its all-time high is $0.73, according to CoinGecko.
Are meme coins real?
Meme coins are as real as any other cryptocurrencies. However, they are also quite different and a lot more volatile. Always make sure to do extensive research before interacting with any of the meme coins.
Will meme coins survive?
Time will tell if and which meme coins will survive. Dogecoin (DOGE) is the longest-running and oldest meme coin. It was created in 2013, and it remains the largest meme coin by market cap.
If history is any indication, meme coins seem to be here to stay. Of course, only time will tell if they will stand its inevitable test, but they’ve been hardwired into the crypto culture, and it’s hard to picture it without them.
Meme coins have proven that it’s possible to build tremendously devoted and dedicated communities in absurdly short periods of time, so long as there’s the right trigger.
They’ve also highlighted the volatility of this industry in a way that is hard to be mimicked by other altcoins.
Hate them or love them, the meme coin market seems to be among the most dynamic ones in the industry.
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