UK Markets closed

Wow, much hype: dogecoin doubles in value in days to pass $2 billion

Dogecoin has almost become mainstream, sponsoring a car in the US Nascar series (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

A cryptocurrency that was launched as a parody now has a a market value of more than $2 billion (£1.48bn).

Dogecoin crossed the $2 billion barrier on Sunday, continuing its remarkable surge of recent weeks.

It first touched the $1 billion level on Christmas day, according to cryptocurrency site CoinMarketCap.

MORE: What is Bitcoin, how do you buy it – and is it a safe investment?

Dogecoin, an alternative currency inspired by a popular 2013 meme, is one of dozens of virtual currencies to have exploded in value during the last year to 18 months.

Most famously, bitcoin witnessed spectacular surges during 2017, rising more than 1,000% in a year to at one stage reach $17,900.

According to market watchers, there are 43 cryptocurrencies with a market cap above $1 billion.

Bitcoin is now hovering around the $15,300 mark – that’s about £11,300, which puts it way ahead of dogecoin, which has traded as high as $0.018773.

The dogecoin is modelled on an internet meme featuring a Japanese shiba inu dog (Erich Schmidt | Getty Images)

Jackson Palmer, a group product manager at Adobe, and Billy Markus, a software engineer at IBM, created it “without much real thought”.

Palmer told website Motherboard that “one night after work, I sat down with a beer, I had too much time on my hands, and I bought Dogecoin.com”. Markus helped make dogecoin an actual currency.

Its mascot is a Japanese shiba inu dog popularised by an internet meme.

MORE: Bitcoin ‘could soon be the new gold’, says JP Morgan

​”I have a lot of faith in the Dogecoin Core development team to keep the software stable and secure,” Palmer said, “but I think it says a lot about the state of the cryptocurrency space in general that a currency with a dog on it which hasn’t released a software update in over two years has a $US1B+ market cap.”

In a Twitter statement, Palmer said that cryptocurrencies are now more like stocks than currency.

“I think 2018 will be a year that cryptocurrency in its current form at least is finally written off as a currency, or a means of exchange. I think It’s going to be cemented as akin to stocks, or digital stocks in technology,” he said.

MORE: This £118,000 gold Rolls-Royce is for sale – but you can only buy it in bitcoin

With so many virtual currencies now available, JP Morgan has noted that bitcoin’s share of the cryptocurrency market – around a third – is at a new low, while the total value market is at a new high of $770bn.

The ripple cryptocurrency is now the second highest in value. Its rise has been so great that co-founder Chris Larsen’s wealth briefly passed that of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday, according to Forbes.