Watch out, dogecoin: A new digital token trending (and price pumping) in Chinese cryptocurrency circles is billing itself as the “DOGE killer.”
The new SHIB token has unabashedly coopted the name of the Shiba Inu dog breed whose image has come to represent the joke cryptocurrency dogecoin. Perhaps as menacing, SHIB has just garnered fresh listings on the three most popular cryptocurrency exchanges among Chinese users, Binance, Huobi and OKEx.
And this puppy is all of a sudden garnering astonishing investment from Chinese traders, even though they seem well aware that the project appears to have no earnest technological promise. On Monday, when Binance launched trading in the SHIB token, the price nearly doubled on Huobi, where it was already trading.
That’s despite Chinese traders being as likely to call it “s**tcoin” in their local language, as SHIB coin.
The new obsession shows the extent to which the recent dogecoin phenomenon – where money seems as playful as a slobbery toy – has spread to denizens around the world. Traders seem happy enough to go along as dogecoin’s price pumps and dumps repeatedly, often timed to a fresh tweet from billionaire Elon Musk. Over the past weekend, Musk mentioned dogecoin multiple times when he hosted “Saturday Night Live.” The DOGE price has tumbled 29% in the past two days.
“SHIB’s price performance over the weekend clearly shows that the crypto industry hasn’t had its fill of canine-themed meme coins just yet,” Rick Delaney, senior analyst at OKEx Insights, said.
‘Billions or even trillions’
OKEx listed the SHIB coin on May 8, just a few days ahead of Binance. Huobi has the most trading volume of SHIB, according to CoinGecko. A Huobi spokesperson didn’t respond to CoinDesk’s request for comment by press time.
The Shiba Inu coin, as the SHIB token is formally known, has a price so low, at $0.00002766, that the project’s backers say it “allows users to hold billions or even trillions of them.”
The price “can remain well under a penny and still outpace dogecoin in a small amount of time,” according to the token’s website.
“SHIB is an experiment in decentralized spontaneous community building,” the website continues. “BONE is our next token!” There’s a even link to a “woofpaper,” dated April 29.
The website goes on to recite some surprisingly sophisticated crypto-industry insider references:
“We locked the 50% of the total supply to Uniswap and threw away the keys,” the website added. “The remaining 50% was burned to Vitalik Buterin and we were the first project following this path, so everyone has to buy on the open market, ensuring a fair and complete distribution where devs don’t own team tokens they can dump on the community.”
A market cap of… ?
It should be noted that the website offers no identifying information about any individuals associated with the project. And as cryptocurrency professionals know, the digital-asset industry is replete with scams. So investors should exercise caution.
On CoinGecko, a cryptocurrency pricing website, the total market capitalization of SHIB is given as a question mark, with a maximum token supply of 1 quadrillion.
No professional cryptocurrency analysts in China expressed confidence to CoinDesk about any fundamental reasons for SHIB’s bounding price.
Such admonishments appear to have done little to dissuade traders.
Binance temporarily suspended all withdrawals on its exchange after the listing, according to a tweet on its official Twitter account. The speculation was that the suspension was caused by the sudden traffic from SHIB trading.
The price pump “is made possible because this token is so cheap that even a single retail investor can buy a few tokens with no trouble,” Colin Wu, a popular Chinese crypto industry blogger, told CoinDesk. In China, “there is a mood that people believe its price would go up.”
A billionaire influencer
The sudden popularity of SHIB appears to be partly the handiwork of social-media influencers on popular Chinese platforms, including Weibo and WeChat.
Charles Xue Biqun or Xue Manzi, a billionaire venture capitalist and one of the most active investors in the Chinese internet industry, has mentioned SHIB in multiple posts on Weibo to his more than 11 million followers. He has also been actively talking about dogecoin, according to his Weibo feed.
“Doge No. 2 hits new all-time highs, almighty,” he wrote in a Weibo post dated May 8, with screenshots of SHIB/USDT and DOGE/USTD pairs on crypto exchange Huobi.
“Doge has already gone up a lot,” Alex Zuo, vice president of China-based crypto wallet Cobo, said. “It gives an example of the ‘wealth-making effect.’ Plus that Shiba inu coin may also benefit from the localization…. With all the promotions by influencers on Weibo.”
“We find it very inexplicable,” Zuo said. “I didn’t buy any SHIB and no one around me has bought any.”