The last few months have seen a meteoric rise of the Shiba Inu meme coin (SHIB) which has defied all expectations to overtake the original meme coin forerunner Doge, and land itself a place in the top 10 cryptocurrencies in the world by market cap.
But Shiba Inu appears to be more than a meme coin, and is actually being utilised in the market as one of the most interesting crypto projects for small-level payments. With a huge army of mostly committed retail investors behind it, the little dog coin has become a phenomenon that cannot be underestimated.
What is Shiba Inu?
In the non-crypto world, A Shiba Inu is a dog, specifically a breed of Japanese hunting dog, the smallest of the Spitz breeds native to Japan. The crypto version seems to build on the DogeCoin meme coin, which features a Shibu Inu as it’s mascot.
DOGE was created in 2013 as a joke by software engineers Billy Markus and Jackson Palmer, who decided to make a ‘payment system’ which parodied what they seemed to see as the wild speculation in the crypto market at the time. Since it’s launch, DOGE reached a staggering market capitalisation of over $85 billion in May 2021, making this joke coin bigger than the current market caps of Ripple (XRP), Cardano (ADA), PolkaDot (DOT) and Solana (SOL).
But Shiba Inu has had an even more impressive explosion than it’s predecessor. Since it’s launch in August 2020, the memecoin has exploded to become the 9th biggest crypto on the planet, one position ahead of DOGE, at the time of writing.
SHIB was created anonymously in August 2020 by a developer who went by the pseudonym “Ryoshi” and quickly gained speed and value as a community of investors was drawn in by the cute charm of the coin paired with headlines and Tweets from personalities like Elon Musk and Vitalik Buterin. The coin has continued to grow in popularity, including amongst the new breed of activist retail investors known as the Apes.
What does Shibu Inu do? How does it work?
The project’s whitepaper, known as the “woofpaper” opens with a very simple question… What would happen if a cryptocurrency project was 100% run by its community?
The founder Ryoshi said “We are an experiment in decentralized spontaneous community building” and it appears that this experiment has resonated with millions of crypto investors all over the world, and has indeed sparked a revolution.
It is this decentralization that is one of the most interesting aspects of the coin, and the woofpaper clearly makes reference to the fact that many projects have fallen foul of regulators, as well as the seeming centralisation of chains such as the Binance Smart Chain.
SHIB is an ERC-20 token, and has an interesting Tokenomics ecosystem, which has developed over time, including the deployment of its own Decentralized Exchange (DEX) called ShibaSwap.
Three separate tokens are at the heart of the Shiba Inu ecosystem, the SHIB native token, the LEASH token and the BONE token.
LEASH was originally set to be a rebase token, but then the community decided to remove the rebase to, quote, “unleash its full potential”. With a total supply of ONLY 107,646 tokens, it represents the other end of the Shiba Inu Ecosystem spectrum, offering lucrative rewards for the holders providing its liquidity.
BONE has 250,000,000 tokens, and is a Governance token which allows holders to vote on upcoming proposals on the Doggy DAO.
Similar to other liquidity pools, users can deposit tokens in the SHIB pool of ShibaSwap to earn interest. ShibaSwap uses dog-behaviour themed names for it’s functionality, including DIG, BURY, FETCH and TREAT. Here is a basic rundown of what the Shiba ecosystem allows users to do, and the fun names they have linked to each function:
- “Digging” SHIB tokens means holders stake their tokens providing liquidity to the SHIB pool, and earning BONE tokens as their reward.
- “Burying” SHIB means holders stake tokens in the Shiba Inu blockchain, earning additional SHIB tokens as a reward.
- “Fetching” allows holders to directly swap SHIB with other tokens.
- “Treat” is another token that is expected to release very soon.
- “Bonefolio” is the portfolio where you can access your stash.
The Vitalik Buterin Move
SHIB founder Ryoshi claims to not hold any coins, and transferred 50% of the coins to Ethereum cofounder Vitalik Buterin after creating the currency. In theory, the move gave Buterin the ability to single-handedly control the market and crash SHIB’s value should he sell off his holdings. But giving Buterin this power was intentional.
And what Buterin did with it was incredible, and earned him some serious respect in the community. He burned 90% of the tokens (essentially taking them out of circulation) and donated the remainder to an Indian Covid-19 relief fund charity set up by the Polygon founder Sandeep Nailwal.
Buterin said that he prefers makers of cryptocurrencies who want to donate give them to charities and not to him. “I don’t want to be a locus of power of that kind,” he said. The move was unprecedented, but it had the effect, and only seemed to increase the SHIB army’s love of the meme coin.
The growth of Shiba Inu – driven by the SHIB army!
The SHIB army is growing, day by day. Part of this growth has been driven by hype and FOMO, but now it appears that a number of companies have recognised the power of the sheer numbers behind this crypto movement, with AMC Entertainment (a favourite of the Apes) saying they are exploring accepting Shiba Inu tokens for payment, alongside other corporations including as RockNBlock, NowPayments and Travala.
And now it seems that Elon Musk’s Tesla company is considering incorporating SHIB for payments with Shiba Inu appearing in source code on its website. Is Elon Musk possibly considering that SHIB might actually hit $1 (which many of the SHIB army think it will) and which will make many millionaires (and possibly billionaires) to buy his expensive cars?
Where can investors purchase SHIB tokens?
If you want to buy SHIB (and alternatively LEASH or BONE) tokens, you can purchase directly on the ShibaSwap DEX or if you prefer, you can go to other exchanges including Poloniex, Binance, Crypto.com and KuCoin (amongst others). And as SHIB is now in the top 10 cryptocurrencies by market cap, it’s likely that pretty much all exchanges will be looking to offer it. In fact, in the last few days, SHIB has been listed on Coinbase.
As SHIB is an ERC-20 token, it can be held in MetaMask wallets, which provides easy access to many of the Web3 functionality.
What is the future for SHIB?
It’s always difficult to predict the future in the Crypto world, but the absolutely explosive rise of Shiba Inu has defied pretty much all expectations (except that maybe of the SHIB army, who are naturally true believers in the idea that SHIB can reach $1.
If this happens, then millionaires will be made, especially amongst those who have invested even small amounts early. The SHIB army would argue that getting involved at such an early stage is a perfect YOLO (You Only Live Once) play, and that on this basis, even investing $100 now could turn you into a millionaire in the future.
Whether this actually happens is anyone’s guess, and it’s important to note that the unbelievably ridiculous amount of SHIB out there (1 Quadrillion tokens) means that if the crypto was to reach a price of $1, it’s value would dwarf the market capitalisation of every crypto, national currency and indeed all the money on the planet by a significant factor.
So from that point of view, the $1 SHIB does appear to be fanciful, but this is the crypto world, and anything is possible. But it’s fair to say that the fact that some major companies are now exploring (and in some cases have actively included Shiba Inu payment options for their products and services) does tend to suggest that SHIB is definitely a force to be reckoned with, and it’s unlikely to be going anywhere thanks to the highly motivated and invested community.
Disclaimer: This article is not financial advice. For full disclosure, the author of this article holds a position in SHIB.