The vaults of MtGox are empty and there is dissension among its coin holders. As the world’s biggest Bitcoin exchange files for bankruptcy in Japan, there are still those who believe in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
Part of their appeal lies in just what makes them risky. Cryptocurrencies are unregulated and instead of working for money, as is the case in a capitalist system, currency is generated and exchanged via cryptography. The currency is also untraceable, which made it great for illegal exchanges on the Silk Road, but also means that the $62 billion (£37 billion) that disappeared from MtGox might never be recovered.
MtGox is an object lesson in the fact that while it can take a long time to mine a unit of a cryptocurrency, it doesn’t take long at all for an entire exchange to disappear. If you had MMM Coin, you probably don’t have enough of them to rub together to get so much as a cup of coffee. Some cryptocurrencies seemed decidedly more recreational, like Beertokens and Weeds. And while the name MtGox instils a sense that physical Bitcoins just might be kept in some difficult-to-reach hollowed-out mountain vault, let’s remember that MtGox stands for Magic the Gathering Online Exchange – that’s right, it was a trading-card exchange.
While you ponder the fact that thousands of people had thousands of pounds tied up in an exchange that could just have easily started as a Pokémon swap site, here are a few cryptocurrency alternatives to Bitcoin. We’ve rounded up some that are named after hefty millionaires, beloved Libertarians, and Shiba Inus.
An unsuspecting Shiba Inu living in Japan found himself the subject of a meme and then a cryptocurrency. Dogecoin seemed like an awesome joke but managed to raise money for the Jamaican bobsled team – but it also was the victim of a heist. So ruff.
“Remember Napster?" Feathercoin asks on the page that explains how the cryptocurrency works on a peer-to-peer network. That might not be the best way to instil confidence, is our advice.
A day in the Bitcoin mines takes a lot of energy. The electricity needed to run a mining operation can be prohibitively expensive. That’s where Litecoin eases the burden by running on consumer-grade hardware. For more, see our closer look at Litecoin mining.
Based in New Zealand, Megacoin is undoubtedly trying to capitalise on – or is the product of – its most famous resident, Kim Dotcom, of Megaupload fame. Like all cryptocurrency, Megacoin is not limited by borders, even interstellar ones: “Anywhere there is Internet, you can send or receive Megacoins. Even in outer space.”