Lesson 32
10 min

Meme Coins: Definition & Characteristics

Meme coins, often inspired by popular internet phenomena, are coins and tokens of cryptocurrencies that combine pop culture and digital investments. In this guide, we explain what meme coins are, how they work, and the potential and risks associated with investing in these crypto-assets. You’ll learn what makes meme coins so special in the crypto ecosystem.

  • Meme coins combine pop culture with digital investments and are often based on internet memes.

  • They offer the potential to quickly gain popularity through a strong community and support from well-known personalities.

  • Despite their potential for quick profits, investments in meme coins are highly speculative and carry high risks.

  • The most well-known meme coins include Dogecoin, Shiba Inu, Pepe, and Memecoin, as well as relatively new meme coins like Smog, Sponge V2, or Dogwifhat.

Definition: What are meme coins?

A meme coin is a type of cryptocurrency that is typically based on internet memes or popular cultural phenomena. Memes are creative content that spreads through the internet and social media, conveying humorous or ironic messages.

Coins and tokens developed from these moments are characterised by a playful nature and an often humorous community that forms around them. The value of traditional cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum is often determined by technical innovations or the underlying blockchain network. In contrast, meme coins derive their value primarily from their virality and social media presence. Famous meme cryptocurrencies like Dogecoin started as jokes. Nonetheless, meme coins have shown the potential to reach significant market capitalisation despite their unconventional origins. Their popularity and the associated investment interest are often influenced by prominent personalities or social media trends, leading to very volatile price developments.

Why do meme coins exist?

Meme coins are a direct result of the rapid development and popularity of cryptocurrencies and the increasingly strong meme culture on the internet. They initially emerged as fun projects that used the virality of internet memes to attract attention and create a community.

These coins and tokens aim to transfer the humorous and often ironic nature of memes to the cryptocurrency market, creating a new form of digital currency. Another idea behind their development was that meme coins could offer a lower entry barrier, allowing people without a deep understanding of the cryptocurrency market to participate and benefit from potential market gains. Consequently, meme coins quickly gained a considerable following and significant market capitalisations, leading to the development of numerous other meme-based cryptocurrencies after the initial introductions.

What is special about meme coins?

The unique combination of financial instruments and cultural phenomena makes meme coins a special part of the cryptocurrency market. Their existence and popularity can be explained by various factors:

  • Cultural phenomena: Meme coins often reflect viral trends or popular memes from the internet. They embody the fun and light-heartedness of internet culture and bring these aspects into the world of cryptocurrencies, which otherwise focuses heavily on technical and financial aspects.

  • Community and belonging: Meme coins create strong, often humorous communities. Investors and fans come together to celebrate the coins or tokens and the associated memes, fostering a sense of belonging and shared identity.

  • Speculation and investment: Despite their often humorous origin, some meme coins are seen as legitimate investment opportunities with speculative potential. Their popularity can rise quickly, leading to significant, albeit volatile, gains.

  • Marketing and prominence: Celebrities like Elon Musk and influencers have made some meme coins famous through mentions or investments, leading to a rapid increase in interest and value. This can help meme coins serve as marketing tools for attracting attention and engaging the community.

  • Experimental and educational purposes: meme coins provide a platform for experimental developments in the crypto space. They can be used to test new technologies, governance models, or consensus mechanisms in a playful environment.

How do meme coins work?

Meme coins work similarly to other cryptocurrencies: they are based on blockchain technology, which provides a decentralised and secure environment for transactions without the need for a central authority. Users can buy, hold, or trade meme coins on various crypto exchanges, with their value mainly determined by supply and demand.

Their uniqueness lies in how they mobilise fans for specific topics or fun content, often leading to viral marketing campaigns that increase their popularity. Many meme coins also use smart contracts on platforms like Ethereum to enable additional functions such as staking or access to special community rewards. Despite their often humorous origin, trading meme coins requires an understanding of crypto market trends and risk management, as they are known for their high volatility.

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Overview of the most well-known meme coins

Meme coins have gained popularity in recent years and built a loyal following. Let's take a look at some of the most well-known meme cryptocurrencies:

Dogecoin (DOGE)

Dogecoin (DOGE) is a meme coin that was initially introduced as a joke in 2013 but quickly developed into a prominent cryptocurrency, thanks in part to its dedicated community and support from well-known personalities like Elon Musk. Originally conceived as a parody of the Bitcoin hype, Dogecoin has built a loyal following and is used for tips on the internet and charitable purposes. The cryptocurrency is based on the Litecoin framework, allowing for fast processing times and low transaction costs, although it has an unlimited total supply compared to other digital currencies. Dogecoin is now accepted by some companies as a means of payment, such as Tesla.

Shiba Inu (SHIB)

Shiba Inu (SHIB) was introduced in August 2020, modelled after Dogecoin, and has positioned itself as the "Dogecoin killer". Inspired by the eponymous Japanese dog, which is also Dogecoin's mascot, SHIB uses the Ethereum blockchain, allowing for additional functionalities beyond ERC-20 tokens, including smart contracts and decentralised financial services (DeFi). Shiba Inu has built a large following on social networks and forums, focusing strongly on community development and projects.

Pepe (PEPE)

The meme coin Pepe (PEPE) was relaunched in 2023 and refers to the internet meme "Pepe the Frog". The project was started to entertain the crypto community and promote creativity within the ecosystem. Pepe quickly became a serious digital asset traded on various platforms. Although often considered a fun token, the project also has serious applications and is supported by a dedicated community advocating for decentralised and creative financial solutions.

Bonk (BONK)

Bonk (BONK) is a relatively new meme coin from 2022 that has garnered attention, particularly in the community around the Solana blockchain. This integration into the dApp system allows Bonk to be embedded in platforms that enable the use of NFTs, giving the meme coin real utility. With viral marketing on platforms like TikTok, Bonk aims to be a community-driven cryptocurrency.


FLOKI (FLOKI), named after Elon Musk's dog, is another meme coin attempting to build on the popularity of Dogecoin and Shiba Inu. With the goal of developing a wide range of applications, including games in the NFT gaming metaverse and an educational ecosystem, FLOKI aims to go beyond the status of a simple meme coin. It represents an attempt to combine the cultural virality of memes with practical applications and utility within the crypto space.

Memecoin (MEME)

MEME is the native ecosystem token of Memeland, a platform for creating and sharing memes, NFTs, and other Web3 content. Memecoin stands out by not only celebrating the creative meme culture but also offering practical use cases within the Memeland ecosystem. Memecoin allows users to stake and farm unique digital artworks and make payments for goods and services on the Memeland platform. Additionally, the Memecoin tokens serve as a currency for purchasing NFTs on the Memeland marketplace and as a means to vote on proposals that influence the future of the Memeland ecosystem.

Opportunities and risks of meme coins

Meme coins have established themselves as a relatively new facet of the cryptocurrency market, presenting both opportunities and risks. meme coins can be an attractive investment opportunity due to their virality and strong community formation. Some cryptocurrencies have reached very high market capitalisations within days. However, like all digital assets, cryptocurrencies are also subject to high market volatility. Therefore, investments in meme coins are considered speculative and carry high risks.

Advantages & disadvantages of meme coins 

How can you buy meme coins?

Buying meme coins follows a similar process to acquiring other cryptocurrencies on crypto exchanges. meme coins can generally be purchased from crypto brokers or exchanges that offer the respective coins and tokens. Of course, you can also start crypto trading in meme coins with Bitpanda and invest in meme cryptocurrencies like Dogecoin, Pepe, Shiba Inu, or Memecoin.

Conclusion: The future of meme coins in the crypto world

Meme coins have established themselves as dynamic players in the cryptocurrency market, bringing a diverse and often humorous alternative to traditional digital assets, adding a breath of fresh air to the world of coins and tokens. The potential of meme coins lies in innovative features and a variety of use cases that appeal to a broad audience. Developers continue to introduce new meme coins to the market, working to further develop the ecosystem and advance the integration of coins and tokens into existing crypto exchanges. In the coming years, it will be exciting to observe how these coins and tokens evolve and whether they can solidify their place as a part of the digital financial system.

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Frequently asked questions about meme coins

We address the most important questions about meme coins to give you a clear overview.

Which meme coins are there?

There are several meme coins, including:

  • Dogecoin (DOGE)

  • Shiba Inu (SHIB)

  • Pepe (PEPE)

  • Bonk (BONK)


  • Memecoin (MEME)

Among the relatively new meme coins you can invest in are:

  • Smog ($SMOG)

  • Turbo ($TURBO)

  • Sponge V2 ($SPONGEV2)

  • Dogwifhat (WIF)

  • Dogecoin20 ($DOGE20)

What is the best meme coin?

The question of the best meme coin cannot be answered universally and strongly depends on individual goals, personal risk tolerance, and your interests as an investor. Dogecoin (DOGE) is often considered the most well-known and widely used meme coin, not least due to the attention it has received from personalities like Elon Musk and its strong market capitalisation.

What is the forecast for meme coins?

A forecast for meme coins cannot be made. The value development of cryptocurrencies can fluctuate greatly, as their value often depends on social media trends or the general sentiment in the crypto community.

While some meme coins have experienced significant value increases in the past, the market is extremely volatile and can quickly lead to losses. Past price developments are never an indicator of future performance. As a result, cryptocurrencies are highly speculative.

What should you consider when buying meme coins?

Meme coins represent an investment opportunity driven by both their cultural relevance and the dynamics of the crypto markets. Although they offer the potential for significant gains in a short period, it is crucial to thoroughly weigh the associated opportunities and risks before purchasing digital assets on crypto exchanges. Both volatile price fluctuations and the unique opportunities and challenges of this type of cryptocurrency should be considered.

What role does market capitalisation play in meme coins?

The market capitalisation of meme coins and other cryptocurrencies serves as an indicator of their size, acceptance, and stability in the crypto market. A higher market capitalisation can indicate broader acceptance and potential stability, while coins and tokens with low market capitalisation carry higher risks and volatility but also greater growth potential. However, the dynamics of meme coins are not only influenced by market capitalisation but also strongly by social media and community activities.

Balancing hype, trust and transparency

At Bitpanda we believe choice, transparency and education are important tools when it comes to investing and creating a diversified portfolio. We offer insights into all corners of crypto, including meme coins, to empower informed decisions, along with features like the recently launched Bitpanda Crypto Index: Meme Coin Leaders. But while meme coins can be lucrative, they're also risky. We highlight both sides to build trust and guide you through the crypto landscape. And every asset we list is subject to the same level of assessment and verification you'd expect from a highly regulated and secure platform.

Meme coins offer a unique perspective on the cryptocurrency space. However, it’s important to remember they’re a volatile and speculative investment. If you're considering venturing into the world of meme coins, do your research, understand the risks, and only invest what you can afford to lose. Remember, while they may bring a touch of humour to crypto, meme coins should not be the cornerstone of your cryptocurrency portfolio.

Other topics around cryptocurrency

If you want to delve deeper into the world of cryptocurrencies, our comprehensive articles are the perfect next step. They provide you with well-founded insights into different coins and tokens.


This article does not constitute investment advice, nor is it an offer or invitation to purchase any crypto assets.

This article is for general purposes of information only and no representation or warranty, either expressed or implied, is made as to, and no reliance should be placed on, the fairness, accuracy, completeness or correctness of this article or opinions contained herein. 

Some statements contained in this article may be of future expectations that are based on our current views and assumptions and involve uncertainties that could cause actual results, performance or events which differ from those statements. 

None of the Bitpanda GmbH nor any of its affiliates, advisors or representatives shall have any liability whatsoever arising in connection with this article. 

Please note that an investment in crypto assets carries risks in addition to the opportunities described above.