The recent surge in publicity for the virtual currency Bitcoin has spawned dozens of other e-currencies hoping to improve on -- or at least ride the coattails of -- Bitcoin's model.
But of these new "altcoins," as they are dubbed, one is certainly the ... quirkiest ... to say the least.
Meet Dogecoin, an altcoin that appears to have initially started as a joke by combining two Internet phenomena: bitcoins and the doge meme.
If you haven't heard of the doge meme, don't worry, there's not much to know. It involves captions, usually in comic sans font, of the internal monologue of a cute Shiba Inu puppy. The captions are deliberately written in broken English, such as "very taste wow." (The term doge apparently came from a little-known reference in a Homestar Runner video.)
Here's an example:
Anyway, according to Business Insider, Dogecoin started when Jackson Palmer, who works for Adobe, sent out a tweet a few weeks ago, jokingly saying: "Investing in Dogecoin, pretty sure it's the next big thing."
That soon led to the actual creation of Dogecoin. And, lo and behold, people started buying into it.
According to its tagline, the Dogecoin is an "open source peer-to-peer cryptocurrency, favored by Shiba Inus worldwide."
Thanks in large part to users of the website Reddit and the fact that the currency's mascot is an adorable little dog, the popularity of Dogecoin has surged, even as many still question whether it's real or not.
At one point last week, it was one of the largest cryptocurrencies by market cap, according to CoinMarketCap.com.
It has since taken a tumble, although it appears to be gaining ground again. As of late Monday afternoon, it was the 13th largest, with a market cap of more than $5.2 million.
The Dogecoin was trading at $0.00043, a far cry from the $657.58 at which a bitcoin was trading.
And, it's also unclear exactly what the Dogecoin means. Will it introduce cryptocurrency to a wider audience? Will it fizzle out in a couple of weeks? At least one online commenter has suggested the Dogecoin represents "an absurdist art project, mocking the entire global financial system."
Robert McMillan, a senior writer at Wired who has been watching Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, has this take:
"There are a lot of cryptocurrencies out there right now, and there will be a lot more. They will get attention because people want to be in on the next big thing, but only a very few will survive."
He said Dogecoin does seem to have a cute backstory, but he added that he doesn't see anything "particularly remarkable" about it, noting that there are "lots of penny stocks that move 250 percent in a day."
What do you think? Have you considered buying any altcoins, such as Bitcoin or Dogecoin? Share your thoughts in our comments section.