As investment in cryptocurrency has exploded over the past few months, driving the overall crypto market cap to an all-time high above $800 billion in January, the number of different cryptocurrencies in existence has also multiplied. At Yahoo Finance, we now track the top 110 cryptocurrencies by market cap. CryptoCompare tracks more than 1,500.
Needless to say, there is a vast ocean of digital coins, and it’s expanding every day.
But just because coins are being created doesn’t mean they are legitimate; it’s relatively easy to launch a digital token. Besides bitcoin, “the alpha and the omega” of cryptocurrencies, it’s likely you’ve at least heard of four more: ether (the token of Ethereum); litecoin; ripple; and bitcoin cash. Far below those more mainstream coins are small-cap cryptocurrencies galore, and some of them look pretty strange, or downright silly.
Every coin has a stated purpose or goal behind it, but in the current investment frenzy, it’s unlikely many buyers are buying based on the technology behind each coin. Dogecoin, for example, was created as a joke, but buyers don’t appear to care: its market cap topped $2 billion anyway. And many of these industry-specific coins are barely being used for their stated purpose.
Is all of this scary? Yes, it should be. It’s why the most popular message at the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit on cryptocurrency on Wednesday appeared to be: invest wisely; do your homework.
Any of these coins may prove to be a scam. Earlier this month, a scam coin called Prodeum fooled people into buying up tokens, then made off with at least $50,000 in real money, leaving only a blank web page that said “penis.” A few days later, someone claiming to be the creator acknowledged it was all a scam (“I hope you’ll accept my apology, they were babyscams”) and added, “Remember that all ICOs are scams.”
Nonetheless, here are 7 of the strangest cryptocurrencies on the market. Take note: Yahoo Finance is not endorsing any of these coins as a legitimate investment.
Yes, there’s a Trumpcoin. It launched in February 2016 as a Trump 2016 donation vehicle (or “cryptoPAC“) with 200,000 coins set aside for donating to the campaign. It has no official connection to Donald Trump, nor has Trump ever acknowledged its existence. Now that Trump is president, Trumpcoin aims to support “his fight against fake news, corruption, and the deep state.” (It’s not clear how it achieves that so far.) The coin’s supply increases at a fixed rate of 2% each year, and its value peaked in January at 84 cents per coin and a market cap of $5.5 million. Like many altcoins, you must first buy bitcoin to purchase Trumpcoins. (See a price chart at CoinMarketCap.)
Two IBM developers, Billy Markus and Jackson Palmer, created dogecoin in 2013 as a joke, meant to parody other cryptocurrencies. “Doge” refers to a popular internet meme of a Shiba Inu dog with a particular way of speaking. (See below our own Yahoo Finance twist on the doge meme.) Palmer said in early 2017 that there is “no active development anymore” of dogecoin and said that the network will soon “organically wind down.” Nope: in 2017, dogecoin rose 3,832% in price. In the first week of 2018, its market cap briefly hit $2 billion. Now in a piece for Vice, Palmer says that spike shows “Something is very wrong.” (Price chart at Yahoo Finance.)
Billed as “the first blockchain solution for the global dental industry,” dentacoin is an Ethereum-based digital token that launched its token sale in October 2017. Its market cap topped $2 billion in the first week of January. Think of dentacoin as a simple rewards program masquerading as cryptocurrency; at participating dental offices, patients can pay in dentacoin and earn dentacoin. At the time of writing, just 14 dental practices in the world have signed on, located in: Buffalo, N.Y.; Simi Valley, Calif.; Australia; England; Italy; Hungary; Bulgaria; India; Taiwan; Malaysia; and Fiji. (Price chart at Yahoo Finance.)
Walmart, Unilever, Nestle, Kroger and other grocers all recently partnered with IBM Blockchain to use blockchain tech to track food shipments. So maybe it should come as no surprise that a banana plantation in Laos has introduced a digital token pegged to the export price of 1 kilogram of bananas. Bananacoin held a token sale over Ethereum in November and sold 4 million of a 14 million token supply. You can buy bananacoin with bitcoin or ether, and once you have some, you can sell one bananacoin for a kilogram of bananas any time you like. At the time of writing, Bananacoin is hovering around 25 cents. (Price chart at CoinLib.)
We live in a post-parody society where it's impossible to invent anything more ridiculous than reality pic.twitter.com/HPGekRKENz
— Zack Bloom (@zackbloom) January 20, 2018
Blockchain for weed: why not? After all, cannabis businesses have struggled to get legitimate business bank accounts, even in states that have legalized recreational marijuana. There’s potcoin, dopecoin, and paragoncoin (backed by rapper The Game), to name just three weed-related crypto projects. Potcoin runs on its own blockchain, originally launched in 2014 as a fork from litecoin, and aims to be the default method of payment for the “underserved legal marijuana industry,” according to its website. Potcoin’s market cap peaked at the end of 2017 at just above $90 million. (Price chart at CoinMarketCap.)
If there’s crypto for bananas, crypto for dentists, and crypto for weed, why not for porn? Sexcoin is “the first cryptocurrency for the adult entertainment industry” and launched in 2013, with a planned coin supply of 250 million coins (for reference, bitcoin is capped at 21 million and 16.8 million have been mined). Sexcoin hit an all-time high market cap of $18 million at the end of 2017 amid the altcoin investing frenzy. (Price chart at CoinMarketCap.)
Named after the valuable mineral found on the planet Pandora in the movie “Avatar,” Unobtanium touts itself as “the original rare cryptocurrency.” Scarcity is the name of the game, with only 250,000 total coins in supply. At the time of writing, it’s trading at around $130 per coin, with a market cap of $25 million. (Price chart at CoinMarketCap.)
Daniel Roberts covers bitcoin and blockchain at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwrite.