It all started as a joke, but there are now signs that dogecoin is beginning to be taken seriously.
In a huge leap forwards for the meme cryptocurrency, it was added to Coinbase Global — a platform that is geared toward more experienced investors.
The major move for the fledgling currency saw its value surge by 21 per cent overnight, its highest in about two weeks, according to CoinDesk.
That means the digital coin, which was designed to serve no real purpose, a market value of about $US53 billion. Still, it has lost almost half its value from its May peak.
The debut on Coinbase Pro means users of the hugely popular cryptocurrency exchange can now trade dogecoin for the first time by signing up for its free professional platform.
Dogecoin was also likely given a boost by Tesla CEO Elon Musk — who has amassed huge influence on the crypto market.
After Coinbase said it would support dogecoin trading, Mr Musk reshared a July 2020 meme showing the cryptocurrency subsuming the global financial system, with the comment, “It’s inevitable.”
He also suggested that he planned to adopt a shiba inu — the Japanese dog breed that inspired the doge meme and dogecoin — later this year.
Cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and dogecoin previously saw sharp moves in their prices following comments by the tech billionaire. His tweets have previously also been linked to moves in the stock market in so-called meme stocks such as GameStop.
Last month, while hosting Saturday Night Live, Musk said dogecoin a “hustle”, causing its value to slump again.
The price of bitcoin climbed 14 per cent to a record high of $US43,500 earlier this year after Musk praised it on Twitter. He subsequently bought $1.5bn of the digital currency and said it would allow customers to pay with it.
Last month, bitcoin fell back 17 per cent after Tesla suspended bitcoin payments. Musk said he had concerns about the fossil fuel intensity of bitcoin “mining”.
What is dogecoin?
It was started to mock bitcoin in 2013 by IBM and Adobe software engineers Jackson Palmer and Billy Markus. It’s even got an Aussie connection as Mr Palmer is Australian and created dogecoin when he was 26 and living in Sydney.
“It was a piss take,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald in 2018. “My whole point of Dogecoin was taking a jab at all these alt-coins that were coming on the scene — like Initial Coin Offerings are today — and, you know, basically making a cash grab.
“So I made the joke and it was me taking the piss out of really scammy cryptocurrency back then. But then it quickly turned into a legitimate thing … and at that point, I was like, ‘Oh my god, now I feel responsible for this joke’. I feel responsible for this economy.”
The cryptocurrency is even represented by an internet meme of Shibu Inu dog breed with bad spelling habits, hence the use of ‘doge’, and is in reference to a popular internet cartoon series from the 1990s called Homestar Runner.
Neither of the founders works on Dogecoin anymore and Mr Markus said he sold all his stock in 2015 without making a profit, while Mr Palmer said he gave all his away.
How do you pronounce it?
The cryptocurrency’s co-founder Mr Markus says the correct pronunciation is “dohj coin”, despite its logo including a dog.
What’s next for dogecoin?
Financial regulators have warned that people investing in cryptocurrency risk losing all their money and other experts have predicted that dogecoin could lose 90 per cent of its value.
But Fred Schebesta co-founder of Finder, said dogecoin has unlocked the achievement of becoming a recognisable cryptocurrency, alongside bitcoin.
“It was created as a joke, but many believe it will periodically go up in value as long as it is around,” he said. “All other blockchains are in heavy competition to add value and claim success for the vertical they serve.”