The Olympics would be short a Jamaican bobsled team without Dogecoin. Image: Sochi 2014
You’d be forgiven if you had written Dogecoin off as a joke, but the altcoin based on an internet meme has quickly developed into a key puzzle piece for the Bitcoin ecosystem; an inadvertent killer app that’s helping drive mainstream cryptocurrency adoption.
While Bitcoin can be polarizing, ideological, and daunting for newbies, Dogecoin is light-hearted, friendly, and inviting.
As such, it’s become the best educational tool around for the crypto-movement, which until now has been dizzyingly frustrating for the average person to comprehend. What better way to learn about a potentially revolutionary technology than through active participation?
And people are using it in spades. In fact, the number of unique daily Dogecoin transactions exceeded Bitcoin a mere week after it was launched last December, and the improbable meme-coin hasn’t looked back since.
Bitcoiners who take themselves too seriously might point out that those transactions are largely financially irrelevant with individual Dogecoins worth only a fraction of a penny, but that’s also sort of the point. The currency’s inflationary model keeps it accessible (and helps it resemble a traditional currency). Rather than being used to make purchases (though that’s an option, too), the over 44 billion DOGE in circulation are mostly being traded between the growing user base for shits and giggles. On Reddit, where the Dogecoin subreddit has already broken 50,000 subscribers, sending someone a few hundred DOGE has become the equivalent of an internet high-five.
That isn’t to say it’s financially insignificant. At $0.0013 per DOGE, the entire market is worth $60 million, making it the third most valuable altcoin around after Litecoin and Peercoin. And given its unique use-case, its price isn’t as correlated to the rest of the market. While the top cryptocurrencies have all lost value today, Dogecoin is up 15 percent.
Not that it matters. Most importantly, Bitcoin’s irreverent sibling has helped attract a diverse demographic of users to a scene that has long been dominated by hackers, techies, and cypherpunk anarchists. Less Cryptography Mailing List, Dogecoin is the Buzzfeed crowd, which incidentally includes a fair share of females.
In other words, Dogecoin has achieved the seemingly impossible: it’s made sending people cash online (as well as mining, which anyone can do with a decent video card) trendy and fun. Indeed, the currency’s pop culture status was confirmed yesterday when Taiwanese Animators blessed the movement with its very own video after Dogecoin donations helped propel Jamaica's bobsled team to Sochi.
Video: Taiwanese Animators/Youtube
“If you go to that subreddit people don't know what the fark they are doing but it doesn't matter—they are tipping, they are giving to charity, they are having FUN,” wrote user Vibr8gKiwi. “Everyone is friendly and very excited—it's a very stark contrast to here. There seems to be a lot of new crypto users joining there instead of here. A LOT of new crypto users.”
Other posts, like one titled “Why are we supposed to stand here and smile,” were less polite. Of course, the Bitcoin community has long been dismissive of altcoins in general. On the original wiki that explains why Bitcoin isn’t a ponzi scheme, Litecoin is unironically labeled as a possible pump and dump scheme. When I asked Bitcoin evangelist Roger Ver last month what he thought of the emergence of Dogecoin, Coinye, and the Ron Paul coin, he told me that he ignores “all the altcoin buzz” because “none of them do anything that Bitcoin can’t.”
If the so-called Bitcoin Jesus has a point from a technological perspective—and he’s arguably only half right with offerings like Namecoin providing functionality beyond payments—he’s clearly missing the broader social impact.
That's what Dogecoin’s creators were always aiming for in the first place: bringing people together. The first Dogecoin meetup in New York City this Friday already has over 250 confirmed attendees. In a world where Snapchat is apparently worth $3 billion strictly based on the quantity of its users, that’s a big deal.
Video: Joseph Weisenthal/Vine
The Dogeparty will be held at the Bitcoin Center downtown in the Financial District, which on Mondays has its own trading pit not all that different to the floor of the New York Stock Exchange of decades past. The only cryptocurrency traded beyond Bitcoin? Take a guess.