There is no question that the advent and growing popularity of bitcoin and blockchain technology has sparked revolutionary developments across many major sectors of the global economy. Implications for these emerging technologies are finding disruptive applications in sectors as diverse as renewable energy, healthcare, and travel, as well as within the more obvious realm of finance. That being said, interest in blockchain has also given rise to some fairly unique and sometimes strange projects, complete with their own weird cryptocurrencies. What the future holds for some of these outliers remains to be seen, but it’s always good to know what’s on the fringes of any major technological breakthrough. Whether for the sake of novelty or sociological analysis, it is worth taking a peek at what the world’s weird cryptocurrencies have to offer.
Dogecoin: The OG of Weird Cryptocurrencies
While the majority of the weird cryptocurrencies we’re looking at have fairly recent origins, often spawned during the great crypto mania of 2017, Dogecoin has been around for quite awhile. Dogecoin started in 2013 as a joke based on popular dog memes featuring a Shiba Inu known as “Doge.” The real punchline, however, is that what started as joke went on to become a major player in the crypto market. Today Dogecoin has a marketcap of over $350,000,000 USD and is housed by a well-established nonprofit foundation (The Dogecoin Foundation) designed to support good causes through the use of Dogecoin. Perhaps the most famous humanitarian effort driven by Dogecoin was sending the Jamaican bobsled team to the Winter Olympics. In terms of weird cryptocurrencies, Dogecoin definitely qualifies, and yet it has remained a relatively sound investment in the often tumultuous world of altcoins.
It’s tongue-in-cheek, but as weird cryptocurrencies go, Piety definitely deserves a mention. A token issued on the Ethereum network that aims to “decentralise spirituality”, Piety offers people of all religions the opportunity to communicate directly with their respective deities securely through the blockchain. With a flashy website boasting stats like “Number of Crusades Launched: 0” and suggesting that at the end of times, “Piety holders will be ranked based on piety accumulation and given preferential spots in the afterlife based on how Pious they are,” the project offers a humorous and provocative critique of the morass of sketchy ICO’s issuing grandiose promises to achieve impossible, or at least highly improbable, goals.
While there are a number of coins with similar characteristics, Potcoin claims to be “the first digital currency created to facilitate transactions within the legalised cannabis industry.” As cannabis legalisation appears to be making headway in a number of nations, it’s not too surprising that industry professionals have recognised the benefits, such as security and speed, of handling financial transactions through a dedicated blockchain-based, albeit weird, cryptocurrency.
Given the nature of Potcoin, one could say that it qualifies as a weird cryptocurrency out of the box, but it actually gets a bit weirder. When former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman returned for the fifth time to North Korea in June 2017, the trip was sponsored by Potcoin. According to CNN, Shawn Perez, spokesperson for Potcoin, explained the impetus for the trip was, “because we believe in Dennis Rodman’s mission to bring peace to the world.” Rodman even sported a Potcoin T-shirt while in Pyongyang.
— Dennis Rodman (@dennisrodman) June 13, 2017
There’s a cryptocurrency for dentists. That seems kind of weird, but apparently dentists aren’t afraid of newfangled technologies! Dentacoin may actually take the cake as a weird cryptocurrency, but not because dentists are particularly weird. What’s weird is how successful this dentist-oriented crypto has been. Dentacoin has secured a place in the top 100 coins by marketcap, and has been making fairly steady progress through its ambitious roadmap. Billing itself as a way to connect patients with dental clinics, a tokenised payment infrastructure, and a market research platform, Dentacoin has several dental-care related applications in the pipeline. Unlike some of the more obscure novelty coins, Dentacoin is a weird cryptocurrency that seems to be gaining traction in the larger movement towards bringing blockchain to the healthcare industry.
Definitely one of the legends of weird cryptocurrencies, Coinye West is sadly no longer with us. In a way, it never really was. Originally devised as a “cryptocurrency for the masses”, the team behind Coinye was clearly ahead of its time when they launched the ill-fated altcoin back in 2014. As for the coin’s namesake, rapper Kanye West, the team told Vice, “I think he’s gonna love that there’s a CURRENCY named in his honor.” Unfortunately for them, Mr. West was not as enthusiastic as they had hoped. Shortly after the coin was announced, West’s lawyers filed “a cease-and-desist order against the team of coders who developed Coinye West, claiming trademark infringement.”
The developers tried changing the name to simply “Coinye” and changing the logo from an overt depiction of Mr. West to a cartoon fish reminiscent of West, although far less flattering. Ultimately, the developers behind Coinye officially gave up on the coin and shut downoperations after ongoing legal drama with West’s lawyers, saying goodbye to one of the world’s most short-lived weird cryptocurrencies.
As it becomes easier for anyone to issue their own digital token, and particularly with the rise of ICOs, there is no shortage of weird cryptocurrencies. While we’ve touched on some highlights here, this list is certainly not exhaustive. Tokens such as f**** token, garlic coin, sexcoin, moon coin, and many more stand out as earning a place in the ever-growing realm of weird cryptocurrencies. With blockchain technology rapidly becoming the way of the future, who knows what quirky, creative, or just plain bizarre additions we’ll see in the years ahead!