The rise in profile (and price) of Bitcoin has made many headlines over the last year. Whether due to its connection to the black market site Silk Road, the story of the would-be Welsh millionaire who threw his fortune away, or the more recent coverage of Bit instant’s troubles. Yet while law-makers and governments seem, slowly, to be getting to grips with the currency known as ‘BT (', a new wave of cryptocurrency is here - and it memes business.
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What the DOGE?

DOGE (pronounced "dohj") is a relatively new crypto currency, one that some have suggested is a satirical take on the rise of Bitcoin. With its workings based on another currency called Litecoin, DOGE takes its name from a meme that began when the mispronunciation of "dog" used a 2005 episode of the online puppet show Homestar Runner (you can see it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLSgRzCAtXA#t=35 if you must) became linked with images of a rescued Shiba Inu owned by a Japanese nursery teacher There's more to it of course, and those familiar with the 'Know Your meme' website can quickly learn of a mixed and intriguing backstory involving (almost inevitably) 4chan and Reddit, and some charming internal monologues.

Arguably it's the last of those which first grabs Doge-lovers attention, and it's how I was pulled in when a friend of mine wrote on Facebook: "If anyone wants to explore the fun and financial world of digital crypto-currency, I will send you 1,000 DOGE coins for free. Just download the client, and send me your wallet address", ending with "much generous, very coin, wow!"

So, eschewing my usual mildly interested but slow at bandwagon jumping persona - I was basically still a bit miffed at having missed out on the self-same friend's early Bitcoin interest - I duly downloaded the client and was sent my first 1,000 DOGE the equivalent of approximately $1.3 (80p).

To The Moon


Created by IBM engineer Billy Markus, and inspired by his friend, Adobe marketing employee Jackson Palmer, DOGE was launched in December 2013. By then the 'doge' meme had already been around long enough to have Internet in-the-knows and Reddit users fired up and clear on the potential: combine a cute and friendly looking Shibe Inu dog with quirky and positive inner monologue ("Plz mine", "very currency", "much coin") and cryptocurrency had its most accessible candidate.

Yet, while newcomers may have fallen for the gimmciky charm, the focused will of the community has kept the doge walking, so to speak. Browse the highly active Dogecoin subreddit at /r/Dogecoin, and it's easy to get a feel that this is a cryptocurrency community with a difference. Yes, there are likely hoarders in the midst, hoping for a Bitcoin-like rise to riches, but the general atmosphere is more one of altruistic concerns. Indeed not just concerns, but action.

20th January saw headlines across the world as Dogecoin users pledged enough of their DOGE ($30,000 worth) to send the Jamaican bobsled team to the Sochi Winter Olympics. Not happy enough with that achievement, they would then go on to back Indian luger Shiva Keshavan, alongside alpine skier Himanshu Thakur and cross-country skier Nadeem Iqbal - all three of whom wanted to compete as independents while India is banned from 10C competition. At the time of writing the fund for the three Winter Olympians stands at $6,518, with one user donating three million Dogecoins ($4,300).
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Many Money
such actions serve to highlight only some of the charitable nature that Dogecoin users display, and there are other causes I could name and detail. However, outside of such heavy generosity, DOGE has gained further traction, with lesser amounts being sent to individuals as an Internet 'tipping' currency. It seems almost at odds with the collective power of the aforementioned donations, but the rise of Reddit and Twitter DOGE tipbots has facilitated Dogecoin as a kind of kudos currency.

At the moment this is little more than a valuable thought, given that a single DOGE is worth about 0.0008 British pounds. But, as they say, it's the thought that counts. And the thought that accompanies a DOGE transaction is usually one of good will and the spreading of a fraction of cumulative wealth. None of this is to say that there aren't some planning for a larger impact on the financial world. As mentioned before, there are likely those who'd prefer to keep much of their coin to themselves.

Plus, it's common knowledge that some DOGE lovers have put full-scale 'mining operations' into action, working as a part of mining 'pools' to lessen the workload and spread out the overall gain. In such a situation, a fairly powerful desktop GPU (like my 6970) might earn a thousand DOGE per 24 hours of mining, but the big-hitters might claim up to 100,000 DOGE if their luck is in. Now with 1DOGE currently worth 0.0008 of £1, this level of mining might bring in £80 a day before deducting electricity costs. Of course if Dogecoin ever reached Bitcoin levels of value then theoretically that 100,000 DOGE per day would be worth £80million per day. But that seems extremely unlikely.


FIAT or Bust?


Where the value of Bitcoin seems quite the phenomenon, stacking up impressively against FIAT (or government backed) currencies, the value of Dogecoin seems destined to reach a far more modest but stable level. This is due to supply and demand, trading, and the question of computational power. As pointed out in a recent Ars Technica piece, Bitcoin is a deflationary currency, designed so that coins cannot be produced beyond 2040. This makes each coin rarer and more valuable up to a point.
However, as mining difficulty increases the coins become much harder to get hold of. This slows trade and likely ends in a drop of value as those who have them keep them, and those who don't fail to acquire any. As it is, home mining of Bitcoins is essentially redundant, and a 2013 University of California study showed that 64% of all Bitcoins in existence at the time had never been traded or spent.
Dogecoin - it has been decided - will be inflationary. So, once the 100billion coin mark has been reached at some point in the next year, a further five billion coins will be added each year, hoping to "maintain mining and stabilize the number of coins in circulation", according to DOGE co-founder Jackson Palmer. This has upset the hoarders, but by all accounts there doesn't seem to be too many of those about.

Portfolio Pull


Whether or not any of this makes Dogecoin worthy of serious investment is debatable - and will be discussed by people with more economical nous than I. Clearly, though, some people whose opinions matter think that it is. On the 28th January the Canadian cryptocurrency exchange Vault of Satoshi made the announcement that alongside adding some additional features, it would be supporting several new cryptocurrencies, including Dogecoin. The significance of this is that, through the site, direct orders for DOGE could be made; that is, those wishing to purchase the coins would no longer have to buy Bitcoins to trade with, being able to buy with currencies such as USD or GBP.

Finally, of added interest is a Chinese investor known only as 'Wolong', who claims to be helping to increase the value of DOGE (and seemingly did so by some 400%, through a form of market manipulation). Quite what Wolong's long term plans are, nobody can be sure, but the individual's interest in the coin would suggest two things: first, Wolong is working on behalf of some fairly early investors, and second that they are interested in the ongoing health of the currency. They're not alone, of course, so is the Dogecoin community, so are the charitable causes that benefit and so are the cryptocurrency newcomers such as me. Really it's a learning curve, but if a difference can be made through, DOGE then perhaps it might be the next big cryptocurrency.