It’s Friday night and I’m hunting down work and scouring the internet. What’s new? Oh, and I decided to spend some of my DogeCoin on a Domino’s gift card tonight from ShopDoge.com. Within a few hours of purchase (I do wish this was instant…in time), my virtual gift card information was delivered. Super psyched and hungry, I just placed my order. All thanks to Doge. Wait, wait?

Bitcoin, Litecoin, DogeCoin?! What’s going on? For spending more than half of my life on the internet, I sure did stumble upon this a bit late. I’m sort of ashamed. But, as the old ancient Chinese proverb says, “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second-best time is now“.  The first cryptocurrency to be created was Bitcoin (2009), the leading cryptocurrency today. Bitcoin currently has a market value of more than $10 billion. Yes, billion.

Cryptocurrency?

If you haven’t heard of them by now, let me introduce you to “cryptocurrencies”, the latest form of currency that is strictly virtual. Cryptocurrencies, “are specifications regarding the use of currency which seek to incorporate principles of cryptography to implement a distributed, decentralized and secure information economy. When comparing cryptocurrencies to fiat money, the most notable difference is in how no group or individual may accelerate, stunt or in any other way significantly abuse the production of money. Instead, only a certain amount of cryptocurrency is produced by the entire cryptocurrency system collectively, at a rate which is bounded by a value both prior defined and publicly known.” [source]

So What Does That Mean?

Essentially, a cryptocurrency is a virtual currency that can be “mined” using your own computer (if it has the proper equipment). You can also purchase and trade various cryptocurrencies using online markets, such as Cryptsy. Cryptocurrencies gain value based on generating interest from individuals who begin “mining” coins, selling them or purchasing them at any given time. It’s an entirely new stock market, generated “by the people, for the people”, if you will.

Putting a Cryptocurrency to Use

Once you have a cryptocurrency to your name (often using a downloaded program that acts as a virtual wallet), you can begin using the currency on the virtual stock market or to purchase actual goods and services. For anyone who has a love for traditional stock markets, the virtual stock market is not much different by comparison.

As of late, Overstock.com was one of the largest online retailers to begin accepting Bitcoin. The site processed over $126,000 in sales using Bitcoin in less than 22 hours. [source] Bigger retailers are now working to integrate digital currency as an alternate payment option when shopping online. If you’re hungry and short on actual cash, you can even grab a foot-long at some Subway restaurants using your Bitcoins. [source]

Playing the virtual stock market is another fun option once you’ve obtained some cryptocurrency yourself. Watching the value of virtual currency rise and fall is a legitimate way to break into the market and to begin earning some real crypto yourself.

Cashing In Your Cryptocurrency

If you’re over the crypto market or if you just want to cash out, use an online marketplace such as Cryptsy to check the current value of your coins anytime. There are alternative markets that can get you higher exchange rates depending on the crypto you have and whether you are seeking actual money or other cryptocurrencies. The most commonly-known method of cashing in your cryptocurrency is to exchange it for Bitcoin using an online marketplace. Once you have Bitcoin in your possession, you can then exchange it using the same virtual market for real money. There are currently sites in the works that will allow you to sell alternate cryptocurrencies for money directly, including Litecoin and DogeCoin.

Popular Cryptocurrencies

Although there is no questioning the domination of the virtual currency market by Bitcoin with a $10 billion value, there are new cryptocurrencies popping up relatively quickly, adding to the user-generated virtual stock market. Some of the most popular alternative cryptocurrencies include LiteCoin, PeerCoin, NameCoin and the latest craze in cryptocurrencies, DogeCoin. Personally, when I discovered cryptocurrency and the various markets available, there was no doubt in my mind Doge was the way to go.

What is DogeCoin?

DogeCoin is an alternate cryptocurrency that was created based off of the “Doge” meme out of pure fun. You can read more about  the DogeCoin founders by checking out this feature published by Vice. Bitcoin has a current market cap of 21 million virtual coins, whereas DogeCoin has a limit of 100 billion, making it more widespread and easier for the everyday nerd to get some coin and join in on the fun. Although DogeCoin began as a coin for fun and enjoyment, its amazing community and hype has brought it into the top 10 cryptocurrencies to date. Additionally, just last month, DogeCoin members donated 28 million DogeCoin to sponsor the Jamaican Bobsled Team going to the Sochi Olympics. That’s more than $30,000 USD. Real money.

Why is DogeCoin Different?

I believe I was spending an ungodly amount of time on Reddit one day when I stumbled onto an article about DogeCoin. Of course, I had to dig for a subreddit immediately: /r/dogecoin, naturally. Once I joined, I found the users to be extremely helpful–and as someone who isn’t all that familiar with virtual servers and overclocking my graphic cards, I got started in just a couple of hours with the help of the community.

The difference in DogeCoin compared to other cryptocurrency communities I’ve observed:

  • Community:  The community welcomes new subscribers with open arms rather than ignoring/shunning them. This keeps users excited to get involved and learn, even if they have no experience with mining/programming themselves. Feel free to ask questions. Oh, and there are plenty of easy-to-follow guides available for anyone interested in getting started here.
  • Giving Back:  The entire DogeCoin community is based on virtual “tipping”; aka, giving away your Doge. I have probably given away thousands of DogeCoin just because. Why? If you’re new to a community, wouldn’t it excite you if users spoiled you with freebies and gifts? Of course it would. DogeCoin wants to get everyone involved excited, and that’s key when building a community or any brand, period. Do you always get your Doge back? No. Does it matter? No, that’s not the point of building a real successful community.
  • Members Care About Each Other, Which Leads to a Successful Community: When your community members actively care about one another by tipping each other, hosting contests and developing apps for its users, you know you’re doing something right. Other cryptocurrency markets are strictly in it to earn cold-hard cash, which is understandable–it’s just not the “Doge” way. It’s much more difficult to find a community interesting when it’s based only on metrics and current market value. At least, that’s how I feel.
  • It’s Fun: Most cryptocurrency markets today feel pretty “Wall Street”. And, I suppose that’s to be expected when your market cap is more than $10 billion. I think alternate coins are great, but when I got started, I never expected to have so much fun–and I’m having a blast with Doge. DogeCoin users take the coin seriously, but the market, not so much. We’re there to enjoy ourselves and to see how far we can take the coin. It’s not about surpassing other coins, it’s about building something awesome out of nothing with a wonderful community. DogeCoin’s users are pretty familiar with the phrase “To the moon”, which has become its unofficial slogan.
  • It’s Silly, But It Could Be Valuable: No, there isn’t a certainty that DogeCoin will ever surpass the $.05, .25, .50 or $1 USD mark, but that doesn’t really matter to the die-hard followers of Doge. Because, most members of the DogeCoin community predict it will reach the value of the moon, anyway. Whatever that means. To the moon. To the moon, fellow shibes. In all seriousness, the value of the coin has skyrocketed in the last month–giving DogeCoin plenty of press and buzz in the news internationally. Will it ever become as valuable in comparison to Litecoin or Bitcoin? No one can say for sure. It’s highly unlikely to ever reach the value of these coins with the massive market cap of 100 billion Doge. However, it’s never really been a wise decision to underestimate the power of the internet.

How to Get Started With Cryptocurrency

If you’re like me, you might think you’re too late to join the cryptocurrency party. You’re not. Well, you might be if your only interest is to get some Bitcoin and cash in. Yeah, you might have missed the boat on that one unless you own some super mega computers. And I really do mean that. However, that shouldn’t hinder you from learning and joining in with different cryptocurrencies, considering a year ago $100 worth of Litecoin is now worth more than $30,000 USD. [source]

If you think DogeCoin might be where you want to get started, head over to the official website, DogeCoin.com. Even if you don’t have a super computer, DogeCoin can still be mined using basic setups until February 14th, when the difficulty of mining the coin will increase (*edit, to quote /u/tstormredditor): “The maximum reward will be cut in half, the difficulty re-targets based on network hash rate. It’s actually possible for the difficulty to lower“. We’ll see what happens! This is an awesome guide on getting started. I set mine up within an hour. If you are completely out of luck as far as your graphic card/GPU goes, you can also read this wonderful guide on setting up a virtual server to mine DogeCoin with Windows Azure here. I used a free trial with Windows Azure and can vouch that it works! You do need a credit card and a valid phone number to register for the trial, but you will not be charged once your $230 USD credit runs out. The servers simply cease the mining process.

Check out the official DogeCoin subreddit to get started with any questions you have regarding mining or obtaining cryptocurrency. There is a special DogeCoin mining subreddit available to give you a jump-start when setting up your rig. You can also find more information regarding the official DogeCoin Foundation here.

Although cryptocurrencies are relatively new to our society, I don’t expect them to stay that way much longer. With the news of hundreds of jobs being created using cryptocurrency donations, or teams getting sent to the Olympics, I don’t think it’ll be more than a few years for digital currencies to become mainstream. I imagine a world not too far off where cryptocurrencies are accepted widely. I can’t wait to spend my Doge on pizza. Oh wait, I already did.  Am I too optimistic? Possibly. But when we take a look at the evolution of the internet, mobile technology and even web design in the past five years, I’d never say never.

In the meantime; Thanks ShopDoge, /r/dogecoin & Domino’s:

pizza