A viable alternative?

MONTAG has previously grasped at straws and tried to explain why not understanding what cyptocurrencies like Bitcoin do is the most important part of engaging with cryptocurrencies.

Reminder: just jump on board and enjoy the wild ride!

But there are always people who want to get more involved: like the people who want their own cryptocurrency. And just like how turning over your trust to the system is what makes cryptocurrencies work, allowing people to make their own currencies is evidence that they are a powerful manifestation of tomorrow’s commerce.

So we shouldn’t automatically laugh at all of these weirdo currencies - just the majority of them.

Because there are actually an array of very specific coins that may prove to be incredibly useful to certain industries or communities, like AudioCoin, with whom Bjork has dallied, and rewards investment in music with AudioCoins.

This is a kind of fascinating precident: in the future artist-specific coins may appear. It makes a lot of sense, in music communities that are, in their very essence, fanatical, and look to grow themselves. What better way to wrap yourself up in an a #fandom by buying their coins, and watching your investment grow as the community grows?

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Other coins, like the extremely-80s-sci-fi-movie-monikered ArtByte, are essentially Bitcoins For Art, allowing you to support the artist of your choice by investing ArtBytes in them.

As for the question of why not simply invest your fiat currency of choice in these artists, I refer you to the general rule of cryptocurrency: stop asking questions, and drink the Kool-Aid. The glorious future will follow regardless.


It’s possible that this inherent hopefulness is what has lead to the glut of altcoins; it’s also possibly why many of those same altcoins are dying amusing or saddening deaths. Reminder: crypto is hard.

Most of these coins are ludicrous - but within them all is a real, important concept: now, anyone can change the world using something previously only available to governments and banks: currency. And they can do it in a way that is is truly meaningful, powerful, and disruptive to its community. It’s just that most of them choose not to do that.

So while you read about these, the oddest altcoins, remember that this is what tomorrow’s world of decentralised business looks like. If you want to picture the future, imagine a Potatocoin stamping on a human face, forever.


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ALTCOINS BASED, INEXPLICABLY, ON PEOPLE

TRUMP (TrumpCoin)

Trumpcoin, whose website manages to - either deliberately or by design - capture that corporate-internet-circa-2001 aesthetic that seems to follow Trump around, was created because the community behind TrumpCoin "would like to further assist President Trump in accomplishing his goals.”

Goal number one was revealed, with a little ceremony, to be TrumpCoin Cause Fund #1, the aim of which was to,

“Contribute to the southern border security project between the United States and Mexico.”

TrumpCoin enthusiasts were, erm, unenthusiastic, with the first reply to the announcement posted by a palpably hurt TrumpCoin administrator: “Looking for any and all feedback.”

As of now, you can still contribute to the TrumpCoin Cause, but you can also pay via Paypal, which sort of undermines the whole project somewhat.


PRES (President Trump Coin)

Astonishingly - or entirely predictably in the altcoin-universe - there are two competing President Trump-flavoured altcoins, although PRES coin has experienced a fall from grace even greater than The Donald’s approval rating.

PRES’s price tumbled from an all-time high of 3.7¢ on the day Trump was sworn in to a dispiriting 0.4¢ today.

Still, much like the voters of Our Most Orange Leader, this coin's enthusiasts live in certain knowledge that they have absolutely not wasted their time and they will definitely MAGA just as soon as things inevitably turn the corner. Look out Kim Jong-Il Coin!


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The story of Coinye is the microcosmic story of many altcoins: wild promise mixed with hurr-hurr jokery, followed by brief highs, bottomless lows and bitter recrimination.

COINYE (Coinye West)

If you were in any doubt as to the bubblicious allure of the altcoin, it turns out all you need is a weak pun to get one off the ground and taken seriously. And what better metaphor for something that’s over-hyped, flashy and partway between unhinged genius and emperor’s-new-clothes ridiculousness than Kayne West?

Behold Coinye West, the altcoin that “paid homage” to the famously humourless rapper, and whose glorious time being traded was cut short in true Kayne fashion, when he, “sued Coinye into oblivion.”

The Coinye founders’ lawyer said that it was, “unfortunate that a parody turned into such an expensive endeavor," and that he, "views the whole process as a learning experience,” to which the correct response is of course, a face-palm.

The story of Coinye is the microcosmic story of many altcoins: wild promise mixed with hurr-hurr jokery, followed by brief highs, bottomless lows and bitter recrimination.


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ALTCOINS BASED, INEXPLICABLY, ON ANIMALS

DOGE (Dogecoin)

Dogecoin is a coin that has managed to coast further on its memetic roots than most. It’s the altcoin that says, “If you fondly remember Doge, 2013’s ‘Meme Of The Year’, then here’s the investment opportunity you have been waiting for!”

While Dogecoin is ostensibly a tempting cryptocurrency and can theoretically be used for any useful purchase or investment - including, in 2014, raising money to dig a well in Kenya - actual uses of the coin seem to be limited to The LULZ.

Two of the more successful uses of Dogecoin were to mint an actual Dogecoin and land it on the moon (a trip that has sadly been delayed until 2019), sending the Jamaican Bobsleigh Team to the 2014 Winter Olympics, and funding a NASCAR entry to compete at the Talladega Superspeedway (driver Josh Wise finished 20th).

Surprise! All those LOLS ended up pivoting to a whole pile of OMFGs, as a series of alleged bugs, alleged shady dealings, and alleged real-world bankruptcies sent Dogecoin’s value down the toilet. Wow. Much sadness. Such devaluation.

Still, Dogecoin is too cute to die and a hardcore of enthusiasts are showing puppyish enthusiasm and working hard to keep their favourite pet alive a bit longer. Dogecoin’s value is starting to rise again, so fans of well-worn animal memes could soon be crowdfunding more hilarious/tiresome ventures.


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NYAN (Nyancoin)

By now you should have got the picture: take a meme, an enthusiastic set of coders looking to make a swift buck whilst having some very specific deep-corner-of-the-internet laughs – and you’ve got yourself a viable cryptocurrency.

As we’ve already learnt, altcoins seem to be the money version of the Peter Principle, insomuch as the prospects of any altcoin can theoretically rise to wild success, but generally only reach the level of its own incompetence.

As numerous crash ’n’ burn bitcoin stories pile up around our feet, we could be forgiven for thinking that Nyancoin, an altcoin based around - sigh - a feline cartoon meme, with an identically-named competitor, etc. etc. - is destined for a very rainbow-coloured flame-out.

Except Nyancoin is ticking over very nicely, thanks very much: not creating a huge splash but not really doing anyone any harm, either. People are slowly but steadily trading Nyancoins for Bitcoins and Bitcoins for Nyancoins - and for what end, you might ask?

Well, who knows, but in a subculture full of failure, fraud and financial woe, it's very nice to see the cartoon currency happily pootle along.


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ALTCOINS BASED, INEXPLICABLY, ON FOOD

SPUDS (Potatocoin)

The road to hell, apparently, is paved with good intentions. If so, maybe the developers of Potatocoin are slowly trudging along that particular straße, wondering what went wrong. Because Potatocoin - crazy name, crazy idea - had its heart in the right place.

Potatocoin had a mission, which was to help farmers in the developing world - by creating a currency that made transactions easy in areas that had no banks, no computers and no contracts. It would work via mobile phone, and would make life easier, better and happier.

The problem for the founders was twofold: they couldn’t win over an understandably sceptical crypto-community (in a world full of coin-scams the sample comment, “LOL, REALLY, HELP PEOPLE?” rings sadly true) and they quickly realised that the developing world was A Very Big Place With Lots Of People In It and they’d all need to have cryptocurrency explained to them.

It was too much. Potatocoin was mashed under the weight of its own expectations and ambitions, and by 2015, it had had its chips.


pizzacoin

PIE (Pizzacoin)

I have been reading about Pizzacoin for half an hour now and have no idea if it is a very very niche in-joke by nerds, for nerds, or a real altcoin. Or both. It's safe to say the safest investment in something with the word "pizza" in the title should come hot, doughy, and with cheese on top.

Laugh it up, but all the people in the above photo posing with "the genesis pizza" have almost certainly lost more money trading altcoins than you and I will ever make.


TACO (TacoCoin)

Tacocoin: the "yeah, why not?" coin, set out with a noble (I guess? Who knows?) aim: to Change The Way The World Buys Tacos, because in the parallel reality of altcoin-startup-world, disrupting something that has worked perfectly well for millennia is absolutely accepted as normal.

Latest headlines on the Tacocoin subreddit reek of the same will-this-do? approach include "We just broke $68 market cap!", "I can't program or anything, but if the devs or mods need help I'm here," and "Tacocoin is not dead until the last taco is crumbled!"

Tacocoin is still with us, but is being treated with the irrelevance it unwittingly sought.


COIN-CLUSIONS

It's still easier to buy a taco with boring old coins. Trump's fantasy wall still isn't being built.

But don't miss the trick: altcoins point to a time when we can make money - the big, dumb, catch-all - work in very specific ways for very specific problems. Not quite yet, mind you - there's still a lot of niche LOLS left to be funded before we get round to solving things like poverty and hunger with an altcoin.

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