Meme coin mania hasn't slowed down: Pepe (PEPE), a new token which launched a little over two weeks ago, just hit an all-time high.
The new cryptocurrency at around 5.45am Eastern Time today touched $0.00000168, according to CoinGecko. It has since dropped and is now trading for $0.00000166—but is still up nearly 75% in the past 24 hours.
Despite the crypto market being in a long and brutal bear market, traders still have an appetite for risk, it seems.
And there is nothing more risky than meme coins, highly volatile digital assets based on internet memes which don't appear to have much utility. Their prices can spike suddenly, giving some lucky traders inconceivable returns.
Most cryptocurrencies—including the biggest by market cap, Bitcoin and Ethereum—have shed a lot of value since the bull run of 2021. But money is still flowing into the market and a number of digital assets are up significantly since the start of the year.
PEPE is based on Pepe the Frog, a internet meme labeled a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League after alt-right groups bizarrely adopted it.
It has surged in value since its launch; one investor managed to turn $250 into $1.02 million.
Though the astronomical gains aren't always what they seem: Liquidity is an issue with meme coins. That means exiting a position to cash out in "real" money—like U.S. dollars—would be very difficult and could lead to a collapse in the price of the asset, experts told Decrypt.
Meme coins, like Dogecoin, have been around since 2013. But they started to gain mainstream attention when Elon Musk, one of the world's richest people, started pumping Dogecoin on Twitter in 2019. The cryptocurrency surged in value to gain a spot in the top ten cryptocurrencies—and at one point had a larger market cap than many companies on the S&P 500.