Meme Coins Explained in the Simplest Terms [2023]

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As a crypto analyst and technology enthusiast, I‘ve been following the meteoric rise of meme coins closely. And let me tell you, it‘s been a wild ride!

Many investors don‘t take meme coins seriously and dismiss them as silly jokes. But as the meme coin market cap soars past $40 billion, we can no longer ignore these viral phenomena.

In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll break down everything you need to know about meme coins as a curious observer or potential investor. I‘ll share my perspective on how they work, analyze key risks and opportunities, and equip you with tips for researching and potentially trading meme coin markets.

Let‘s dive in fellow crypto fan! This will be an entertaining learning experience for both of us.

What Are Meme Coins and Where Did They Come From?

Meme coins are cryptocurrencies that derive their branding and appeal from viral internet jokes, trends, memes or characters. For example:

  • Dogecoin features the iconic Doge Shiba Inu meme
  • Shiba Inu coin uses another Shiba Inu as its mascot
  • Tamadoge bases its crypto token on a metaverse pet game

Unlike most crypto assets that aim to solve real-world problems and create utility, meme coins exist almost purely for entertainment, humor and speculation.

Now let‘s go through a quick history lesson on the origins of meme coins:

  • The first meme coin was Dogecoin, created in 2013 based on the Doge meme
  • Dogecoin was made as a parody but gained real value once traded
  • In 2021 Dogecoin rallied 10,000% thanks to Elon Musk tweets
  • Success of Dogecoin inspired other meme coins like Shiba Inu, Floki and Tamadoge
  • There are now over 100+ meme coins competing for attention

So in summary, what started off as a joke has ballooned into a multi-billion dollar niche of the crypto market!

Meme coins seemed to catch lightning in a bottle because they tapped directly into internet culture and provided crypto-native representations of viral memes.

Let‘s analyze some of the top meme coins next.

Major Meme Coins and Their Traits

There are over 100 meme coins in existence now, but a select few make up the large majority of market share:

Meme Coin Market Cap Unique Traits
Dogecoin $11 Billion The original meme coin, endorsed by Elon Musk
Shiba Inu $7 Billion Promoted as the "Dogecoin killer"
Tamadoge $100 Million Integrates meme coin with play-to-earn game
Floki Inu $500 Million Attempts to capitalize on Elon Musk‘s pet

As we can see, early movers Dogecoin and Shiba Inu make up the large majority of the market. But new challengers are emerging all the time vying for a slice of the meme coin pie.

Now let‘s analyze how meme coins work under the hood.

Meme Coin Mechanics Explained

Despite the silly outward appearance, meme coins operate based on the same blockchain mechanisms as other cryptocurrencies:

  • New meme coins are created via crypto token standards like ERC-20
  • Tokens get released with huge supplies, sometimes even unlimited
  • Speculative trading on exchanges allows market-based price discovery
  • Social media buzz and celebrity endorsements drive price volatility
  • Meme coins can be stored in crypto wallets like other tokens

Unlike "serious" crypto projects, meme coins don‘t enable smart contracts, build protocols, or aim to solve real-world problems. Their existence is based purely on speculation and hype cycles.

While some see this as a weakness, others view it as a fun experiment in "collectible" crypto assets. It‘s similar to trading cards or rare Pepes – meme coins let people speculate on the value of viral internet content and trends.

Now let‘s do a deeper comparison of meme coins versus mainstream cryptocurrencies.

Key Differences Between Meme Coins and Legitimate Crypto Assets

Meme coins have some glaring differences from established cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum:

Meme Coins Mainstream Crypto
Utility No practical utility Enable real-world use cases
Value Worth tiny fractions of a penny Worth thousands per coin
Supply Often unlimited Limited or capped supply
Volatility Extremely volatile on hype Less vulnerable to trends
Ownership Often concentrated More decentralized

In essence, mainstream crypto aims for real-world adoption while meme coins are focused on entertainment value and speculation.

Now let‘s move into analyzing the risks and opportunities of investing in meme coins.

Should You Invest in Meme Coins? Pros and Cons

Meme coins present a polarizing dilemma – their parabolic rallies can bring incredible gains, but the fundamental weakness makes long-term viability questionable.

Let‘s go through the key pros and cons of buying meme coins:

Potential Pros

  • Massive price upside if timed correctly
  • Fun way to trade on pop culture and memes
  • Low barrier to gain exposure with tiny coin prices
  • Plays into irreverent crypto culture and buzz

Potential Cons

  • No longevity or purpose beyond speculation
  • Prices can crash fast without warning
  • Lack of transparency from anonymous founders
  • Few protections against pump and dumps
  • High concentration among "whale" holders

As we can see, meme coins are extremely high risk but also offer lottery ticket-like upside. This makes them appealing for opportunistic gamblers but risky for conservative long-term investors.

For most people, the smartest move is to allocate only entertainment capital you can spare to meme coins, rather than serious wealth. Their long-term durability remains questionable.

Next let‘s go through some tips for researching and potentially trading meme coins.

How to Research and Trade Meme Coins

For those interested in buying and trading meme coins, here are some tips:

  • Follow meme coin subreddits and Discord groups to gauge sentiment

  • Research the team and backers behind meme coins if possible

  • Monitor tweets from influencers like Elon Musk who can pump coins

  • Use Google Trends to identify rising meme trends early

  • Don‘t FOMO – wait for pumps to fade before buying

  • Take profits quickly during rallies and pumps

  • Set stop losses to limit downside risk during crashes

  • Never invest more than you can afford to lose

  • Focus on short-term trades tied to trends and manias

The most profitable meme coin trading depends on carefully timing entries around hype cycles, resisting FOMO, and booking profits before inevitable crashes.

Now let‘s examine how to actually buy meme coins for those interested.

How to Buy Meme Coins on exchanges

If you want to gain exposure to meme coins, the process is simple:

  1. Sign up at a crypto exchange like Binance or Coinbase

  2. Deposit fiat currency like USD by card or bank transfer

  3. Use deposited cash to buy stablecoins like USDT

  4. Trade stablecoins for desired meme coins

  5. Withdraw meme coins to a secure wallet to hold

Be sure to pay close attention to trading volumes and pick only the most liquid meme coin markets. Avoid illiquid meme coins.

Now it‘s time for the big question – are meme coins worth investing in?

Should You Really Invest in Meme Coins?

While meme coin returns can be staggering during viral rallies, their long-term investment merits remain questionable at best and risky at worst.

Some key reasons why meme coins are speculative trading assets rather than long-term investments:

  • No differentiation – Most meme coins lack unique utility or innovations

  • Anonymous teams – Team identities are unknown, raising fraud risk

  • Weak fundamentals – Purely built on hype and mania, no fundamentals

  • Pump and dump risks – Lack of regulation leaves investors vulnerable

  • Social dependency – One negative tweet can wipe out gains

Unless you are prepared to actively trade around manias, meme coins are best avoided for most long-term investors. Their fundamental weakness and lack of protective regulation make buy and hold investing extremely risky.

For solid long-term crypto gains, assets like Ethereum and Bitcoin have stronger staying power and adoption upside.

Of course, for some risk-tolerant speculators, the incredible meme coin rally of 2021 won‘t easily be forgotten. Just be cautious and disciplined if attempting to profit off similar manias in the future.


While meme coins captured lightning in a bottle for a short time, it remains doubtful they can stand the test of time.

Their lack of differentiation and sole reliance on hype makes it unlikely they can build lasting value without eventually fading away.

By sticking to more mainstream crypto assets with real utility, adoption upside, and transparency, most investors can capture gains with less catastrophic risk.

Of course for entertainment purposes, jumping aboard meme coins through expendable capital can provide some laughs and adrenaline. Just don‘t bet your financial future on jokes and memes.

Thanks for learning about meme coins with me fellow crypto fan. Stay cautious out there, and may your trades be ever in the green!


Written by Alexis Kestler

A female web designer and programmer - Now is a 36-year IT professional with over 15 years of experience living in NorCal. I enjoy keeping my feet wet in the world of technology through reading, working, and researching topics that pique my interest.