Despite having begun as a joke, cryptocurrency Dogecoin banged the golden gong late last week, scoring a bona fide integration with the popular Coinbase Wallet.
The success of this doge-and-pony show (without a pony) has been as surprising to the Dogecoin team as it's been to crypto pundits. In October, Doge's estranged co-founder, Jackson Palmer, told Decrypt that rumors of a Coinbase listing were just that, and noted that the legal documentation Coinbase required was almost impossible to assemble. “It’s by no means likely that they’ll get it,” he said then.
Even after the listing last week, Ross Nicoll, one of Dogecoin’s lead developers, was just as amazed: “Coinbase wallet adding Dogecoin was a surprise to me, certainly. One of the fun parts of working in a decentralized project is sometimes others just grab a task and run with it, though, so I can't swear no one external was involved.”
Maximilian Keller, another Dogecoin dev, said much the same. “We did try to get in contact with [Coinbase], but not very seriously,” he said. “But integration into their wallet, that just happened out of the blue, pretty much.”
But Nicoll was also a little unsurprised.
“We've long hoped Coinbase would adopt Dogecoin, and I hope our enthusiasm contributed to the decision,” he said. “Given the timing, I suspect a combination of the recent attention from Elon Musk, and the release of a 1.14 release candidate have helped. Probably some combination of all three.”
The coin has been a crypto favorite from its inception. Co-founders Palmer and Billy Markus launched Dogecoin as a hobby project in 2013 mostly to satirize bitcoin and the upswell of investment in crypto. Dogecoin's enormous money supply (100 billion coins), ensured that each unit would carry a low price, with correspondingly low transaction fees. Though its founders decamped, Dogecoin carried on.
Musk’s April 2 “endorsement” certainly was well timed. The SEC-monitored perennial tweeter announced, “Dogecoin might be my fav cryptocurrency. It’s pretty cool,” causing a relative social media sensation.
But Coinbase Wallet Product Lead Sid Coelho-Prabhu, told Decrypt the listing was in fact a response to “customer demand.”
A working doge
That’s not especially surprising. Unlike a lot of high-falutin’ but ultimately unused projects in the cryptoworld, people are actually using Dogecoin. There are already Dogecoin-integrated apps like Dogepal, a PayPal-like app, and, yes, Doge Racer, a Wacky Racers-style game that pits doges against doges. One putative set back: Dogethereum—a bridge that would allow doge holders to easily swap their coins for Ether—was put on hold when the price of Ether crashed last year.
Still, the devs are dreaming of bigger things. Do Nicoll and Keller, like the Bitcoiners, believe that Dogecoin will eventually replace the U.S dollar as the global reserve currency?
“That’s not something that we can do much about as developers,” said Keller. But, he added, there is hope that Dogecoin will at least become useful as an alternative currency. “Because Dogecoin has this utility as being actually used as a currency, a lot of stores list Dogecoin and exchanges list it.”
“I just moved into a new apartment and bought Ikea gift cards with Dogecoin,” he said, as an example. “I bought half of a sofa.”
Half of a sofa? He clarified: He bought a full sofa, then paid for half of it with gift cards bought with Dogecoin on Bitrefill, a website that provides such things.
Teaching an old doge new tricks
Nicolls, for his part, isn’t so worried about wider adoption. “I can't speak for the others but I got into Dogecoin because I liked the idea of cryptocurrency but wanted something friendlier and less political, and I think Dogecoin embodies that role well,” he said. “I'd love to see wider adoption, and hope Coinbase wallet adding Dogecoin is part of that.”
He doesn’t even own any real world, honest-to-God Shiba Inus, the meme-dog Dogecoin is named after. “Sadly I live in a pet-free building right now, but love seeing the photos of everyone else's doges!” he said.
Much fair enough. Wow.