Obviously, memes came home to roost in spectacular fashion this year, when millions of people around the world, forced into confinement by the pandemic, were bored and looking for a hobby. On top of that, the US government issued stimulus checks for $ 1,200, providing much needed cash food to many hobby traders. Yet the memorization of finance had been in the making for some time. It was already making its appearance in 2020, with the unlikely success of smaller-scale actions such as Kodak or Hertz, similarly supported by trade on past applications. But, really, you can go back to cryptocurrency.
Long before people on r / wallstreetbets declared their love for the memes stock, people on other subreddits, as well as Telegram and Twitter, had been shouting their misspelled motto, “HODL.” That is, “hold back”, like buying a certain cryptocurrency – from Bitcoin to the last scam coin – and keep it in your wallet in the hope that its value will rise again, around the moon. If spending a mile to build up a physical chain store’s inventory during a pandemic takes a lot of confidence – or a lot of nihilism – the leap of faith required to invest the savings in a novelty currency whose price is simply determined. by its popularity online is mind-boggling. And yet, right after the GameStop frenzy came the Dogecoin Frenzy, with the Robinhood Squad pumping out a parody cryptocurrency, its symbol a dog meme, from $ 0.0041 on January 1 to $ 0.50 in May. Elon Musk, who took a liking to Dogecoin, maintained a high level of attention with a barrage of Doge-laden tweets and a shout at Dogecoin on Saturday Night Live. In the second quarter of 2021, Robinhood generated $ 144 million in revenue from Dogecoin transactions. (Robinhood makes money from market makers who place actual trading orders, through a controversial mechanism called payment for order flow.)
GameStop had been a wake-up call: Dogecoin has shown that meme finance is here to stay, especially since cryptocurrency has now entered the mainstream. A whole new generation of shameless ‘meme-coins’ has emerged: generic crypto tokens that often have no technical advantage over first-wave assets like Bitcoin or Ethereum, but have traded in the threatening and technically sound vibe of those cryptocurrencies for wacky logos and playful names.
After Doge, all bets are off. Cryptocurrency enthusiasts – and companies like Visa – have spent huge sums on non-fungible tokens hypothetically associated with digital artwork, or cartoons of bored monkeys, pixelated figures, big penguins, and of rocks for pets. As the Metaverse hype climaxes, virtual plots in optimized video games have sold for millions of dollars. Last month, a blockchain-based video game called Infinite Axis launched a cryptocurrency exchange that allows users to trade in-game currency for cryptocurrency and then state guaranteed money. It was all partly driven by the playful YOLO mindset that made GameStop happen in the first place, partly exploited by opportunists happy to capitalize on the market turmoil, and ultimately inspired by the vanity that to sit in the same Clubhouse or Twitter table space with a bunch of billionaires, you better buy a monkey like the one they have in their profile pictures.