Dogecoin, the bitcoin rival launched as a joke in 2013, has more than doubled in price in the past seven days after being adopted by two mainstream trading platforms.
Crypto exchange Gemini today announced it was making the peer-to-peer online currency available to customers, a day after eToro added it to its trading app.
The price of a dogecoin, a digital token based on an internet dog meme, was trading for $0.68c (50p) this morning. A week ago it was at $0.30 (22p).
It started the year at around 0.5p - representing a 9,900% surge so far this year.
In the same period Bitcoin has risen a mere 450%, having tested record highs of $63,000 before suffering another bout of vertigo to collapse back below $50,000.
The latest price surge pushed the market cap of Dogecoin above $50bn, putting it among the top five most-valuable cryptocurrencies in the world.
That valuation looks decidedly frothy to analysts even in these red-hot economic markets.
Its latest surge has been connected to Musk’s upcoming appearance on Saturday Night Live this weekend - where it is has been rumoured that he will, perhaps literally, sing Dogecoin’s praises.
What is Dogecoin?
According to the official website: “Dogecoin is a decentralized, peer-to-peer digital currency that enables you to easily send money online”.
It was created by IBM developer Billy Markus and Adobe data scientist Jackson Palmer in 2013 as an alternative to Bitcoin and a parody of the online cult around cryptocurrencies.
It is named in honour of a Japanese Shiba Inu whose photo went viral at the time: captions were added in the Comic Sans font to convey an amusing imagined insight into the dog's inner-most thoughts.
The internet was nicer back then.
The code is based on the Litecoin, and can be mined in the same way as many other digital currencies. It differs because its supply is limitless which under normal circumstances might ring alarm bells.
It has until now mostly been used to pay small tips for content on social media.
What is going on with its price?
Prices of crypto have rocketed in the past five months driven by fears of inflation in real-world currencies, celebrity endorsements and growing mainstream acceptance.
Dogecoin’s anarchic spirit has struck a chord in the US, with Elon Musk, Snoop Dogg and Kiss’s Gene Simmons all raising its profile with supportive posts on social media.
This year’s rally began in February when it doubled in value after ‘Technoking of Tesla and Imperator of Mars’ Musk - tweeted: “Dogecoin is the people’s crypto”.
Musk was joking. With Simmons, who declared himself the “God of Dogecoin”, and rapper Snoop Dogg, who pasted a Doge over his album art, it is less clear.
It has since continued to rally, alongside other alt-coins it was invented to ridicule, driven by growing institutional interest in the digital assets.
Tyler Winklevoss, CEO of Gemini and one half of the Winklevii twins, is the latest saying: “Dogecoin is the people’s money. It’s organic, irreverent, and fun. It’s not forced on us by a government or some other central authority, it’s chosen by us, for us – by the people, for the people.
“Yes, it’s a meme coin, but all money is a meme.”
The ‘to the moon’ crowd who turn to Reddit for investment advice have now set a target of $1 a coin, which would give it a $100 billion market cap.
Who is Gene Simmons?
Your typical financial adviser type.
How do I buy Dogecoin?
Until recently, most crypto exchanges did not offer Doge but Binance and Kraken were among the first to give it a whirl. Now Gemini and eToro have joined the party.
It is also available in the US on the Robinhood app, whose army of armchair users helped to fuel its latest rise.
Should I immediately pour my life savings into it?
Carol Alexander, professor of finance at the University of Sussex Business School, told Forbes: “It is a low-cost, high-risk investment with the potential for massive returns which can’t be found elsewhere at the moment.”
But unless you are prepared to see your investment vanish in an unpredictable puff of digital smoke, are one of the high-risk betters who think Reddit's WallsStreetBets channel constitutes reasoned and sensible investment advice, or are Elon Musk, then