Cryptocurrencies trading exploded in 2017 and there is now a huge range of these to invest in. Our sample of five shows just how varied and bizarre this new financial world is...
First “minted” just in April 2018, WSJCoin appears at first glance to be a cryptocurrency created by US business newspaper The Wall Street Journal. On 19 April, excited tweets from attendees at a WSJ event in Hong Kong announced its launch, many accompanied by pictures of physical coins stamped with the WSJ logo.
But, as subsequent tweets revealed, WSJCoin is not strictly a cryptocurrency. It is actually a video journalism project designed to explain the cryptocurrency world and how it works. It has been produced by WSJ cryptocurrencies reporter Steven Russolillo and video journalist Clément Bürge.
However WSJCoin appears to involve a degree of investment of time at least, as the project invites individuals to “create” their own coins in order to access the project’s content.
WSJCoin is not available to the general public at the time of writing, but it looks like it is one to watch for any current or potential cryptocurrency investors.
In HBO start-up sitcom Silicon Valley, one character laments the fact that demand for “adult content” has “driven more important tech adoption than anything”. He goes on to list developments from the printing press to Polaroids to on-demand video as examples of this.
Sadly, it appears that cryptocurrency is not an exception. The global market for pornography is spawning the creation and take-up of new products from this area of technology too.
Take BunnyToken. This cryptocurrency was set up by a number of individuals in the “adult entertainment” sector as a new way for customers to make payments. It uses one of the key technological features of cryptocurrencies as its main selling point, namely the fact that they often allow users to make anonymous payments.
And BunnyToken is by no means the only cryptocurrency to hop into this market opportunity – see also the less coyly named Sexcoin.
Dogecoin could be the ultimate syndrome of 2017’s cryptocurrency craziness. Created for fun by US IT workers Billy Markus and Jackson Palmer in 2013, it is named after the popular “doge” meme, which features a picture of a Japanese dog alongside inane but endearing multicoloured Comic Sans captions.
Seen as a joke currency, dogecoin was mostly traded in online communities, usually as a way to pay small “tips” to providers of interesting content. It has also been used to raise money for charities and sportspeople in need of funding.
But as hype around bitcoin and the cryptocurrency world rose last year, people started to invest serious money in dogecoin. This saw the cryptocurrency eventually reach a market capitalisation of over $2 billion in early January.
Dogecoin has since sagged a little, but at the time of writing is still worth about $600 million in total.
In cryptocurrency terms, MMM is ancient, having a history that spans decades rather than years or months. Its story began in the early 1990s, when Russian businessman Sergei Mavrodi invited investors to back his currency, promising annual returns as high as 1000 per cent.
Advertised via a series of bizarre soap opera-style adverts featuring “ordinary Russian man” Lyonya Golubkov who progressively got richer and richer, MMM was incredibly popular. Unfortunately the scheme, and others using the MMM brand that followed both in Russia and elsewhere in the world, saw many investors lose everything they’d put in.
Mavrodi recently died, but the MMM organisation is still going strong and has now moved into cryptocurrencies. It is an area that Mavrodi took an interest in during his life, and today MMM Coin is available for investors to buy.
In what could be a sign that MMM has learnt some lessons from its past, it makes no concrete promises of any eventual returns.
Very few parents would be happy to give their children a free rein in the murky and volatile world of cryptocurrencies. However, some might take the view that, as cryptocurrencies look set to play a part in the financial world in the future, it would be a good idea to educate their offspring about them.
This is what the creators of Wollo, a cryptocurrency designed for children, are hoping. Through Pigzbe, an app that functions as a payments system and social network, children can accumulate Wollo tokens through getting pocket money, being paid for chores, and receiving gifts from relatives.
They can then make purchases with their Wollo tokens in online and physical shops. They can also play games designed to teach them about cryptocurrencies and money in general.
Children’s “microfinancing networks” – that is, their parents or other carers – will be pleased to know that the app allows them to monitor and control all transactions made by their budding traders.