With Meme Coins, You Can Literally Make ‘Money’

If the announcement earlier this year that the Securities and Exchange Commission approved the listing and trading of bitcoin as exchange-traded product wasn’t enough to disabuse anyone of the notion that soon we all will paying for everything with digital money, let me drop the other shoe.

Not only can you buy bitcoin just like any other investment vehicle listed on an exchange throughout the trading day as you would a stock, you can also create your own digital currency. Welcome to the wonderful world of meme coins.

Simply put, a “meme coin” refers to a cryptocurrency named after individuals, animals, fictional characters or virtually anything else (pun intended).

According to the website Investopedia, meme coins hold little or no intrinsic value but are intended to be “lighthearted and fun.”  And while some may have heard of Dogecoin or Shiba Ibu, two of the most famous meme coins, there are more than 1,300 meme coin currencies floating around in the financial ether, though most are not actively traded.

In some ways this kind of cryptocurrency is related to NFTs, or non-fungible tokens. NFTs can be traded for cryptocurrency, other NFTs or money, with the value determined by the NFT owner and the market.

If meme coins sound more “real” to you, they are available to purchase on a variety of crypto exchanges. Or you can create your own meme coin if you have the necessary technical knowledge. According to Investopedia, “turning a coin or token into a popular meme coin is complex and has only been successfully achieved a few dozen times.”

But the ability for people to create their own currency and trade it on exchanges is less the wave of the future than a blast from the past.

Before the U.S. Mint was created and even before the U.S. Constitution, states had their own currency. Under the Articles of Confederation, each state had the power to print and manage its own paper currency. Like many other issues under the Articles, this led to serious problems as one state’s currency could be undervalued compared to others, making transactions across state lines difficult to say the least. At the same time, the Continental Congress also issued its own currency adding to the monetary mix.

Fast forward to today and it is easy to see how the proliferation of digital currencies could become a serious problem for consumers and businesses alike. Fortunately, the diversity of digital currencies and the ability for individuals to create their own meme coins clearly puts cryptocurrency in the investment side of the ledger rather than the medium-of-exchange side.

There will likely be a day when digital currencies are the primary medium of exchange. But we’re not there yet and it will take some time for a majority of consumers to accept virtual money over coins and bills. Until that day comes, cryptocurrency will remain more a financial diversion than a serious medium of exchange.