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Buyers Beware as "Altcoin" Frenzy Bruises Bitcoin

Written by:
Associated Press
Published on:
May/18/2021

LONDON (Reuters) - Bitcoin’s smaller rivals are eroding its share of the $2 trillion digital currency market. Of the dozens snapping at its heels, most have little use beyond financial trading - but few of the investors fuelling their rise seem bothered.

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Among the major “altcoins” - as all cryptocurrencies aside from bitcoin are known - some such as ethereum aspire to be the backbone of a future financial system. Others, like Dogecoin, have no such ambitions, and are barely used in payments or business.

For the army of retail punters pouring money into them, their backstory - and the inherent volatility that exposes those who invest in them to potentially heavy losses - often matter little.

Instead, buyers see the chance of quick profit, or at least an entertaining ride.

‘OH, THIS IS FUN’

Demi Staal, a 27-year-old electrical engineer based in The Hague, holds a portfolio of altcoins worth around $8,000.

Among his previous plays: a 30 euro ($36) bet on Shiba Inu, a Dogecoin spin-off that briefly became one of the 20 biggest cryptocurrencies this month.

“I think it’s a joke coin, just like Dogecoin,” said Staal, who doubled his money on that transaction. “I saw it listed at my exchange a few days ago and was like ‘oh, this is fun, I’ll buy this’.”

Along with prospects of fun and gains, however, altcoins are plagued by volatility.

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