Who Let The DOGE Out?

When investing in cryptocurrency, the fundamentals seem very important. How then can a coin that was meant to be a meme remain so popular it has a market cap over a $1 Billion (as of this writing)? That is a lot of value for something that has no distinct utility or feature, yet has captured a large share of the market. It is certainly FOMO for noobs. Meme coins were meant to be just for fun, and that is the image many have of Dogecoin. Yet there are some things about Dogecoin that are actually fundamentally what cryptocurrency should be all about.

First and foremost, this is not financial advice. This is for reference and informational purposes only. Cryptocurrency is very volatile and there are risks to consider when investing. This is not a direct promotion of Dogecoin, the cryptocurrency or investing in a digital asset. Instead this is a look into why it is popular and how it fits in the current cryptocurrency landscape. With that said, what is all the fuss about Dogecoin?

What Is DOGE Coin?

A meme coin is a cryptocurrency that is not meant to be taken seriously. It does not serve any purpose other than for exchanging and trading. It can be used as a form of payment for tipping or just a way to exchange value over a blockchain. It doesn’t have the core principal of being a store of value like Bitcoin, or an application development platform like Ethereum. First released in December 6, 2013, Dogecoin was just meant to be a simple P2P (Peer-to-Peer) electronic payment software like Bitcoin. The cryptocurrency got its name from the popular Doge meme which features a Shiba Inu dog as the logo. DOGE is the listing name used for the digital asset.

DOGE, while not anything sophisticated, did not initially have any sort of application other than P2P. It is based on open source software from the cryptocurrency Luckycoin and Litecoin. DOGE uses the scrypt algorithm with a PoW(Proof-of-Work) consensus mechanism. There are 127 billion coins in total supply with a 1 minute block time. The block reward for miners is 10,000 DOGE per block produced. Unlike other cryptocurrency, Dogecoin’s founders (Billy Markus and Jackson Palmer) have not continued promoting or even associating with DOGE. They have pretty much been on the sidelines, but DOGE has flourished in part due to its community.

Pump And Dump

While Dogecoin seems like a fun and trendy cryptocurrency that is nice to have, it is also notorious for pump and dump schemes. This has been encouraged in large part by users from Reddit, social influencers and public personalities that include Elon Musk. All it takes is a tweet from a well known personality, and DOGE prices on the market surge. These pumps do not seem to follow any sort of fundamentals other than the encouragement of influencers.

DOGE became a TikTok trend in July 2020, promoted by fans of the popular social media app. It began going viral as users began to spread the word through the platform. This was a push to pump up the price of DOGE and it worked. DOGE volume spiked by 683% after TikTok user urged a buying spree pump. Another surge occurred when Elon Musk tweeted in support of the cryptocurrency. That led to the value of DOGE to surge from $0.003 to $0.005. What do you think happens with all the viral videos on TikTok and tweets from Musk? It creates attention, and people will either Google search Dogecoin to learn more or ask someone they know about it. This type of news is not something you would expect on mainstream media.

These pumps are usually followed by dumps, as can be observed from the latest that occurred in 2021. This was a result of the Gamestop Short Squeeze in which retail investors were temporarily shut off from buying stocks for Gamestop. This led to users urging a pump for DOGE because at least they can buy it freely without any restrictions. It was more about making a statement to the establishment by some, but more people probably did it in order to make gains. That was exactly what happened and then came the dump. During this time (January 28, 2021) DOGE surged by 1,100% to an ATH of $0.082 but would dump a few days later.

In these pumps, many were motivated to see the price surge. However, once it reaches the highs it is really hard to control people from taking profits. After all, DOGE does not really have the same value for HODLing as BTC. You can hold thousands of DOGE in your bag, which really does not seem to be worth much. When prices surge it becomes valuable for converting to fiat, like winning money from a casino. Unfortunately this does not end well for noobs who probably got into the pump craze with no idea what was about to happen. They probably expected that their investment was going to go up, but not realizing that when others cash in the prices go back down and they can lose their initial investment.

DOGE Is In Theory What Cryptocurrency Should Be

While many would berate and laugh DOGE off as just a meme coin used for fun, it actually does have fundamental features of a cryptocurrency. People will be surprised that Dogecoin is capable of many things that modern banking systems cannot do. Dogecoin takes the innovations from blockchain technology and applies it to a community driven environment. Despite not having a platform of its own, what matters is that it provides the basic needs for cryptocurrency which is the direct and decentralized P2P transfer of value. There are also no barriers to purchase it that require proof of documentation, like with other financial assets.

Transactions in DOGE are cryptographically secured, which is important in cryptocurrency. Dogecoin uses a blockchain to allow two people to exchange or trade without knowing each other personally and without requiring permission from a third party to conduct a transaction. Today before we can purchase an item with a credit card, it actually requires permission from the issuer of the card. They can stop a transaction any time they want since it is under their control. This can happen to certain individuals who credit institutions may want to limit or target for any reason.

Dogecoin is highly decentralized after all. It is not controlled by any one entity or organization. Its founders cannot even shut it down and it is open source and available to everyone. There are no constraints to access the source code which users can do with as they wish. No one is going to stop you from buying or selling DOGE, because there are is no censorship against a user. Instead you have a permissionless and trustless system like Bitcoin that is peer to peer at best. Many do not realize that you can also use DOGE to transfer money across borders, but of course when you convert it to fiat it is your responsibility to meet KYC requirements from digital exchanges.

Banks take days or longer to settle payments. With Dogecoin it can be done much faster and at a lower cost as well. There are no middle men or third party to pay when conducting a transaction between two users. If Bob wanted to tip Alice with DOGE, he can do so directly to Alice’s digital wallet with no one to prevent the transaction or require arbiters to facilitate it. The Dogecoin blockchain network provides a neutral service users need to transfer value. So during any pump and dump, the blockchain is still being used to record all transactions in a transparent and immutable manner.

Takeaways And Closing Thoughts

Dogecoin is for the most part the simplest blockchain decentralized app for cryptocurrency. What started out as something just for fun, turns out to have a large following. What this did is foster a community of individuals that brings power to the people. We can see how much that is the case when influencers and public figures join in to participate in pushing the price of DOGE higher. Through social media and the Internet, information spreads faster and coordination becomes easier as the network provides the necessary infrastructure to allow that. Just be careful though when you participate, things can quickly change if you commit more than what you are willing to lose during pumps. It is not a good idea to invest life savings, pay checks or even mortgage a house just for DOGE. Think rationally and it should be fine.

DOGE as a digital asset is not actually worthless like so many penny stocks. It is cheap, but due to its popularity is gaining the attention of the mainstream. Many digital exchanges (e.g. Binanc) and wallets (e.g. Exodus) do support DOGE, which is why it can be purchased by many people. Developers of the Flare blockchain have announced their support for DOGE, which could introduce smart contracts to Dogecoin users. There is also interest in the gaming community to use DOGE, for online gambling, tips and purchasing game items (e.g. badges, powers, etc.). Ren has provided a path for DOGE into DeFi with their renDOGE token. This can bring more applications for DOGE when it comes to liquidity for cryptocurrency lending, payments and trading.

The interest in Dogecoin is going to help sustain the digital asset as something of value to users. This keeps the momentum of holding the coin for longer terms. What Dogecoin showed is that through a coordinated effort by a decentralized community, the market can drive the prices. That is what free market laissez-faire economics should be all about. People are free to enter and leave the market at their own will. When DOGE is surging there is no one group or individual who can stop people from buying it, like what Robinhood did with Gamestop (the reasons are due to how the current financial system works). DOGE is not to be treated as a sure bet financial instrument by any means though, it is a risk that must still be evaluated. With these new possibilities and opportunities coming to Dogecoin, who is to say it is worthless and only for pump and dumps.

Disclaimer: This is not financial advice. The content shared is for informational purposes only. Please do your own research always before investing in cryptocurrency.

The Lightning Network – A Micropayments Layer For Bitcoin Transactions

Scalability is one of the main criticisms against Bitcoin (BTC), since the network is not capable of more than 7 TPS (Transactions Per Second). This is due to the “Scalability Trilemma” of blockchains, in which there is a tradeoff of scalability with security and decentralization. You cannot have all three things at once so it requires a balance of resources. If you value more decentralization, you will get more security as well but that will be at the expense of scalability. The blockchain cannot scale if there are too many nodes on the network. When compared to the VISA and Mastercard network, Bitcoin is not on the same level when processing transactions. The VISA network can process over 1,700 TPS or close to 150 million transations per day. In reality though, it doesn’t always reach these values but it gives some idea of the scale VISA is capable of.

While the developer community looks to the fundamentals of Bitcoin as its strength, others view ways to preserve the core architecture while introducing new features to enhance it. One way to improve scaling is through a Layer 2 solution called the Lightning Network (LN). This protocol moves the computational process from the blockchain main network to an off-chain layer. This puts less work on the nodes while using an off-chain layer as the solution to process direct peer-to-peer transactions using payment channels. The blockchain will then be used for settling the transaction and recording it. These can also be implemented as sidechains, which still have a Merkle Root for provability that they are a part of the blockchain. In theory the LN can process up to 1 million TPS and support other cryptocurrency (e.g. Litecoin).

One of the main talking points of the Lighting Network is reducing transaction fees. This means instant payments that only require a fraction as fees. The idea is to enable micropayments using BTC and make it much easier to pay for items like a cup of coffee. Prior to that, paying for coffee with BTC was impossible. Merchants do not accept BTC and the transaction fees were quite expensive. It made more sense to use BTC to move millions of dollars of currency than to transact $5.00 for a cup of coffee. Developers also promote the idea of using the Lightning Network for Atomic Swaps, which allow large amounts of BTC to be exchanged for other currency or cryptocurrency.

The LN has been in development since 2016. One of the requirements needed to support it was the activation of SegWit BIP 141 UASF. SegWit was activated on August 24, 2017 after the Bitcoin community agreed on BIP 91 (signals the support to activate BIP 141). While it has been steadily improving for production use, it is not without critics. The Bitcoin Cash community hard forked from Bitcoin because one of the reasons was that they did not support SegWit and the LN. The Bitcoin Cash supporters believe in larger block sizes and on-chain solutions as opposed to maintaining existing block size and off-chain solutions. Other critics have expressed concerns that the LN could become centralized with payment channels. Several channels could form one large channel and monopolize the network, in theory. Other views state that the channels could become like intermediaries, with the power to deny transactions and thus defeats the purpose of a decentralized system.

There are 3 possible problems with the LN (from Investopedia):

  1. Transaction Fees
  2. Nodes are susceptible to hacking
  3. Does not solve network effect in Bitcoin

Users will choose whichever has smaller transaction fees. If the main network has lower fees, then there is no need for a Layer 2 solution. However, if the main network is slower then it makes an off-chain solution ideal. A faster LN can process transactions faster and more efficiently than the main network. Fees should eventually lower when there are more users.

Since LN nodes have to be online at all times, if a hacker knows the LN node’s IP address and network, they can attempt to attack it. They can attack the node to disrupt its service or even to try to steal BTC. When a node goes off-line, by accident or intentionally, it can also affect transactions. A Fraudulent Channel Close can occur if a channel closes before the transaction completes and pocket the BTC. Network outages can also bring the LN system down if the payment channels are too centralized.

While the LN is aimed to increase adoption of BTC as a form of payment (i.e. medium of exchange), it may not be able to keep up with the network effect. Bitcoin Cash claims to have solved the problem with micropayments since it has a faster network than Bitcoin. In order for LN to be more successful it must be used for making BTC payments. It appears though that more people are willing to hold on to BTC as a store of value rather than for making payments.

Whether LN will become an integral part of Bitcoin, is still up for debate. It presents an excellent idea but it may already be outdated. More Bitcoin maximalists are really just looking at BTC as a digital asset counterpart to gold, so it is a new store of value. As BTC becomes more valuable, people will not likely spend it for micropayment transactions. This is where the altcoins fit the bill for that purpose. Instead BTC will be like digital gold, stored safely by HODlers in their hardware wallets. This creates a dilemma for the LN, but it can still work out for the best. BTC can be divided into smaller denominations or units called Satoshis. The LN can prove its value by providing a safe and easy way to make micropayments using Satoshis. Proving its value will make it a better proposition for developers to incorporate the LN in their applications, and that could onboard users for greater adoption.