Cryptocurrency, Memes, and The Future Of Currency
Mike Dronkers / Thursday, May 1, 2014 @ 12:14 p.m. /
"It's magical internet money."
Humboldt-based Josh Mohland is something of a honcho in the emerging alt-currency world, specializing in a virtual tender called Dogecoin. And it started as a joke.
"It's been a wild ride, and we're having fun doing it," Mohland told KHUM. [Listen to the full interview below.]
Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Dogecoin are the future of money, say proponents like the Winklevoss twins and Marc Andreesen.
Dogecoin is named for the popular image macro that Wired Magazine named "meme of the year" in 2013, in which a Shibe Inu is captioned with syntactically-questionable quotes in comic sans. (Yes, that sentence was syntactically-questionable.)
Dogecoin (pronounced "dohshkoyn") seems to operate more as a functional currency compared to its big sibling Bitcoin. While one can apparently buy a Lamborghini, a Virgin spaceflight, or lemonade with Bitcoin, it's often treated like gold: an asset to sit on.
Mohland is now a full-time cryptocurrency professional. "I've got a product called Doge Tipbot, and what it does is, it allows you to throw change at people on the internet."
So if you see a comment on Reddit that you like and an upvote isn't strong enough, you could tip them in Dogecoin. This could someday expand to other platforms like DISQUS or Twitter.
"I think so. Why not?" - Josh Mohland, on whether money should be fun.
But what's Dogecoin actually worth in American dollars? While its market cap has reached as high as $100,000,000, 10 Dogecoin is only worth about $0.01.
"It's gone up, it's followed the price of Bitcoin, but most of the time, we don't pay attention to the price of it, we just throw it around and get more people to use it," Mohland adds.
Mohland says that since its launch four months ago, the Tipbot processes about 20,000 tips per day, with about $1,000-$2,000 changing hands.
Through Reddit (u/Mohland), Mohland and others have used Dogecoin to build a well in Kenya, fund the Jamaican olympic bobsled team, sponsor a NASCAR racecar, and raise money for other charitable causes.
Locally, Mohland spearheaded a fundraising campaign for the HSU bus crash families. He says over $7,000 was raised, soley from the Reddit community. Mohland says he personally put about $800 up for the cause.
Many economists are skeptical that the world's monetary institutions will give way to internet-based transactions, while internet culture and techno-solutionists argue that it's time to update the way we do business. International money transfers are relatively expensive, and credit card fees leave some merchants looking for a cheaper alternative.
Sharpshooters, ready your correction emails, because I have no idea what makes this work. Why a meme? What makes Dogecoin different from Bitcoin? And how do cryptocurrencies even work? What's stopping counterfeiters?
[Disclaimer: Mohland once gave me maybe 7 cents worth of Dogecoin via Reddit, which I still don't know how to spend. - MD)