By Anna Irrera and Tom Wilson
LONDON (Reuters) – Dogecoin prices hit an all-time on Tuesday, with a market capitalisation above $50 billion, after social media fans used hashtags to fuel a rally in the meme-based cryptocurrency.
An 8,000% price surge this year has seen Dogecoin, which was launched as a satirical critique of 2013’s cryptocurrency frenzy, overtake more widely-used cryptocurrencies like Tether to become the fifth-largest coin.
While Dogecoin, whose logo features a Shiba Inu dog at the centre of the meme, a represents only a fraction of bitcoin’s $1 trillion value, it can be traded on crypto exchanges and more popular mainstream trading apps.
“The Doge rally represents an interesting convergence,” said Diana Biggs, CEO of crypto start-up Valour, after Dogecoin’s price soared by more than five-fold in the last week to a record $0.42, according to CoinMarketCap.
“A meme coin created as a joke for early crypto adopters whose community found that kind of thing to be fun, with now a new generation of retail investors for whom memes are a native language,” Biggs added.
Dogecoin fans used the hashtags #DogeDay and #DogeDay420 to post memes, messages and videos on Twitter, Reddit and TikTok, referring to the informal April 20 holiday to celebrate cannabis which is marked by smoke-ins and street parties.
“GIMME THAT DOGECOIN LAMBO!!! #DogeDay” one tweeted, referring to the Lamborghini car popular in crypto culture.
Dogecoin’s rise has come amid a surge in online trading of stocks and crypto by retail investors, stuck at home with extra cash because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has not coincided with a growth in usage of the coin for payments or in commerce.
The same trend has spurred a boom in usage of online trading apps like Robinhood, and also fuelled the social-media driven rally in GameStop Corp stock that pitted retail investors against hedge funds earlier this year.
“It’s an extension of the same phenomenon that has led Tesla stock to be valued well beyond fundamentals and more recently to the GME (GameStop) short squeeze,” said Ajit Tripathi, head of institutional business at decentralised finance startup Aave.
Like other cryptocurrencies, Dogecoin’s price is heavily influenced by social media users including Tesla chief Elon Musk, whose tweets on the cryptocurrency in February sent its price soaring over 60%.
“If this goes as planned and everybody including Mr Musk go ahead and just pour money into Doge on April 20th all at once Doge will reach prices that originally were not even conceptual,” a TikTok user said in a video promoting the coin.
(Reporting by Tom Wilson and Anna Irrera in London; Editing by Alexander Smith)