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The short answer is that they can be any meme-inspired cryptocurrency. But dog-themed coins, in particular, have dominated the space. We could even call 2021 the “year of the dog,” with the pack leaders being Dogecoin (DOGE) and Shiba Inu (SHIB) based on price and market cap. This article will look at a list of meme coins – especially the top meme coins, their ins and outs, and the driving forces behind the sector as a whole.
What are Meme Coins? A Short History
In the beginning, there was Dogecoin. The first meme coin launched in 2013 and parodied the popular Japanese Shiba Inu dog. So, meme coins have been around since then. But the current boom started in late 2020. That’s when “WallStreetBets” (a Reddit community) rallied to pump GameStop’s stock. They intended to put a short squeeze on the “whales” looking to profit from the stock’s price drop.
In January 2021, “SatoshiStreetBets”, another Reddit community, kicked off a similar stunt by joking it would pump the price of DOGE. Their actions and Elon Musk’s tweets sent the price of DOGE to an all-time high of $0.73. That price marked an increase of over 2,000%.
Elon again displayed his power as an influencer when he joked about DOGE on a TV program. Many DOGE holders believe it was his comments that sent the price tumbling. With the price tanking, these particular meme coiners scrambled to get out of DOGE and find the next big thing. It was at that point that SHIB stood out as a logical choice. Thus, traders searching for quick riches boarded this meme coin bandwagon. Another rally was soon underway.
Top Meme Coins Go Viral
Memes go viral all the time on social media platforms. So, why wouldn’t crypto founders use them to help their coin go viral? This viral component heavily drives the meme coin’s “go-to-market” philosophy.
Let’s look at the top meme coins like DOGE. A viral photo of a Shibu Inu inspired its creation. Whether crypto veterans take these coins seriously matters little. If an influencer “talks them up” to their followers, millions of people moving en masse can spike the coin’s price in a big way. Surging prices attract more media attention which attracts more investors. Such sequences regularly trigger the market, sending a list of meme coins skyrocketing.
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List of Meme Coins’ Characteristics – Section I
Below are some characteristics one should consider before getting involved with meme coins:
1. Meme Centric
Memes inspire meme coins, but these cryptocurrencies typically offer little functionality. Their most prominent feature is their warm and fuzzy mascots.
2. What are Meme Coins and Why so Volatile?
Regardless of which list of meme coins you look at, they are all quite volatile. Even more so than dApps in sectors such as DeFi or even NFTs. To learn more, please read our “What are dApps?” and “What are NFTs?” articles. All cryptocurrencies are considered highly volatile to traditional investors. So, if crypto traders think meme coins are volatile, you can only imagine how risky they are to the average investor.
These coins are also more prone to price movements based on hype and “FOMO” (fear of missing out). Thus, they are riskier. So, speculators who “ape in” with everything they have can lose badly. Dreams of becoming a “baller” can quickly crash into the harsh reality of a financial implosion. Even with the top meme coins, taking significant risks can end with the “walk of shame” back to the parent’s basement or a best friend’s couch. A long list of meme coins has “rekt” those who got greedy and traded too aggressively.
List of Meme Coins’ Characteristics – Section II
3. Influencers and Community Sentiment
Meme coin prices are more subject to social media influencers and community sentiment than other cryptos. Elon Musk, for example, became the most famous influencer associated with meme coins when he began pumping DOGE.
But, the sense of community also helps drive interest. Being part of an inside joke or a group moving in unison can be fun and exciting. In the same vein as the GameStop stock play, meme coiners inspired by SatoshiStreetBets started their giant-killer excursion by pitting themselves against mainstream cryptos like Bitcoin. Thus, it’s hardly surprising that community-driven meme coins flooded the crypto market in 2021. On the other hand, as we saw with Dogecoin, when community interest wanes, so does the price.
List of Meme Coins’ Characteristics – Section III
4. What are Meme Coins’ Tokenomics?
Even the top meme coins are sorely lacking in tokenomics compared to Bitcoin. The “OG” of crypto has a built-in scarcity factor with a finite supply of tokens. However, there is a list of meme coins with an infinite token supply. Nor do they typically employ a burn mechanism to remove tokens from circulation permanently.
SHIB, for example, has a total supply of one quadrillion tokens. Not to be outdone, DOGE already has over 100 billion tokens in circulation with no maximum supply! That means that the DOGE supply can flow forever without a spigot to turn it off. Due to tokenomics, its value can’t rise too high. In other words, the downward pressure on the price is always a factor because of its never-ending token supply.
5. What are Meme Coins’ Low Price Benefits?
Anyone with an elementary understanding of supply and demand economics knows that a high supply of coins ultimately depresses prices in the long run.
Such low prices can have a favorable psychological impact on speculators, however. Even the top meme coins can go for a fraction of a penny. Thus, a retail investor with $1000 to spend can say, “look, I have one million tokens!” It’s more exciting than holding 0.027 Bitcoin (based on today’s price).
6. Easy to Create
Due to advances in software technology, meme coins take less time to develop. The reduced effort makes it quicker for developers to crank them out to capitalize on the trending topic of the day.
List of Meme Coins’ Characteristics – Section IV
7. Top Meme Coins’ Scams
Unfortunately, some meme coin founders are simply in it for the scam. The founders of the “Squid” coin, for instance, seized on the popularity of the “Squid Game” series on Netflix to launch their SQUID token.
It subsequently experienced a price surge of more than 86,000%, leading to “SQUID to the moon” chants. That is until its unscrupulous team disappeared into the night with everyone’s cash. Unfortunately, SQUID holders had nothing left but empty bags and severed get-rich-quick fantasies.
Buyers must also beware of the blockchains these meme coins use. Top meme coins like Dogecoin and Shiba Inu are on solid foundations such as Litecoin and Ethereum, respectively, but many others aren’t. What are meme coins doing on such dicey chains? Not sure, but it opens up a “Pandora’s box” full of all sorts of chicanery, such as hacks.
On your meme coins’ requirements list, a white paper is also nice to have. Not one riddled with typos and egregious grammatical errors, but a thoughtful, well-written one. If a white paper reads like a vapid fluff piece with no concrete details, it could be there merely to lure naive investors in for a good “rugging.” Buyers, beware!
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Top Meme Coins – Fundamentals vs Marketing Hype
For the traditional investor, all cryptocurrencies are too risky to touch. How could there be any fundamentals involved when merely gambling? However, there are certain fundamentals crypto veterans consider before taking the plunge.
Take the three T’s: team, technology, and tokenomics. Before investing long-term in a cryptocurrency platform, it’s wise to research these factors. An effective marketing strategy also plays a massive role in a new venture’s success. As important as the three T’s are, they become meaningless if no one knows about the project.
On the other hand, meme coin projects skew towards the marketing side with no regard for the three T’s. This imbalance means there aren’t any fundamentals to keep the project grounded. Hence, prices can bend sheerly to the whims of the mob.
Mobs moving en masse through fear and greed cycles affect every project in the short term. However, those with a strong showing in the three T’s can bounce back from short-term shocks caused by a fickle mob.
The question is, what are meme coins worth when the hype cycle fades, the whales begin to dump, and the influencers change their tune? These incidents cause meme coins to experience price whipsaws that are quicker and more severe.
Top Meme Coins by Market Capitalization
Based on market cap at the time of writing, the top five meme coins are:
1. Dogecoin (DOGE)
2. Shiba Inu (SHIB)
3. Dogelon Mars (ELON)
4. Floki Inu (FLOKI)
5. MonaCoin (MONA)
List of Meme Coins
Here’s a deeper dive into some of the top meme coins:
Developers Billy Markus and Jackson Palmer created Dogecoin in 2013. As mentioned, the whole thing started as a joke inspired by the Japanese dog called Shiba Inu. Dogecoin is a fork of Litecoin and, thus, uses the proof-of-work (PoW) consensus mechanism. Also, it has no maximum limit on its token supply.
Shiba Inu (SHIB)
SHIB rivals DOGE for the top spot of meme-coin superiority, and its adherents call it the “Dogecoin killer.” It also gets its name from a Japanese dog. “Ryoshi,” an anonymous developer, created SHIB in August 2020. The primary difference between SHIB and DOGE is their token supply. SHIB limits its supply to one quadrillion tokens. Furthermore, SHIB burns tokens, with approximately 50% going to charity.
Akita Inu (AKITA)
Yes, there is another Japanese dog breed in the meme coin space! DOGE undoubtedly inspired AKITA’s creation. It launched on Uniswap in February 2021 and has similar tokenomics to SHIB. However, its total token supply of 100 trillion is 1/10th the size. The AKITA community also dreams of their project becoming the “Dogecoin killer.”
The year of the dog continues with this project built on the Solana blockchain. The project generously airdropped 13% of the SAMO token supply to community members. Further, SAMO’s roadmap promises some big things such as NFT offerings, a DEX, and token burning events. This meme coin gained popularity in October 2021. That’s when its price leaped over the 4,300% mark, rising from $0.005 to over $0.22 in about a month.
The SafeMoon team broke naming convention ranks with their doggie coin compatriots. In March 2021, this meme coin launched on Binance Smart Chain (BSC). It incentivizes hodling by penalizing sellers with a 10% exit fee. Half of these fees go to holders of the SAFEMOON token, and the burning mechanism kicks in on the other half. As the price spiked in April 2021, it caught investors’ attention.
What are Meme Coins? – Conclusion
So, what are meme coins, and what purpose do they serve? Do they exist solely to make their founders rich? Are they nothing but over-hyped ventures designed to fleece the naive? To sum up, critics can rip on meme coins for their lack of fundamentals and long-term relevance. However, these projects do have merit.
First, they offer short-term profit opportunities. Wild price swings aren’t necessarily a bad thing when it comes to experienced short-term traders. These cute and fuzzy memes can become overnight sensations. For the trader who can time their entry and exit points properly, life-changing profits await.
Second, meme coins introduce new people to crypto. Meme coins could serve as a bridge to the vast opportunities in Web3, such as the top games in GameFi. Or, they could find out about the metaverse. What is Metaverse? Follow the link to find out.
On the other hand, the likelihood of a “noob” getting stung by a crashing meme coin is high. Whether it’s a rug pull or a violent whipsaw, negative experiences like that can taint someone’s opinion against crypto as a whole. Hopefully, the long list of meme coins will introduce new people to all the other blockchain technology opportunities.
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