Investors have witnessed history in a number of respects since March 2020. For instance, stock investors have watched the benchmark S&P 500 deliver the strongest bounce from a bear market bottom of all time. It took less than 17 months for the index to double from its trough.
But the gains and history have arguably been more impressive for cryptocurrency "hodlers" (a term that affably describes crypto token holders). The aggregate value of all digital currencies rocketed from $141 billion in March 2020 to $2.42 trillion, as of late evening on Dec. 3, 2021.
Yet the real jaw-dropper is meme coin Shiba Inu (CRYPTO:SHIB). SHIB tokens could be purchased at midnight on Jan. 1 for just $0.000000000073. But as of this past weekend, six of these zeroes had disappeared and Shiba Inu coin was changing hands for $0.00003962. That works out to a year-to-date gain of 54,273,873%. Put another way, a $2 investment at midnight on New Year's Day would have made you millionaire, as of Dec. 3.
Despite these historic gains, the impassioned "SHIBArmy," which has grown to more than 1 million hodlers, according to wallet address data from Etherscan, is looking for continued upside in their coin in 2022. While there have been a number of fleeting catalysts throughout 2021, including tweets from the world's richest person, Elon Musk, the following five catalysts are likely to be Shiba Inu's biggest momentum drivers in 2022.
1. AMC's accepting SHIB tokens
In late November, online tech-focused retailer Newegg Commerce announced that it would be accepting SHIB tokens as a form of payment by "early December." That means Shiba Inu will join Bitcoin, Dogecoin, and Litecoin as accepted digital currency payment options.
However, the bigger rollout is likely to be the incorporation of SHIB tokens as a form of payment for movie theater chain AMC Entertainment (NYSE:AMC). AMC is arguably a better-known global brand, and therefore a superior test of real-world utility for Shiba Inu coin.
In late October, AMC CEO Adam Aron posted a poll on Twitter that asked users whether his company should accept SHIB for online payment. Of the 153,100 respondents, 87.6% were in favor of the move, in some capacity. Aron tweeted in mid-November that AMC would integrate SHIB for payments within 60 to 120 days. That puts it on track to be accepted by sometime in the first quarter of next year.
2. The expected launch of Shibarium
Another clear-cut catalyst for Shiba Inu is the ongoing development of layer-2 blockchain project Shibarium. Layer-2 blockchains are built atop an existing blockchain framework and are usually focused on reducing fees, improving scaling, and/or speeding up the processing times associated with a network.
Shiba Inu is an ERC-20 token that's built on the Ethereum blockchain. Although building on Ethereum is relatively easy, it's also tied Shiba Inu to Ethereum's flaws -- namely, high transaction fees and potentially slow processing at times.
The solution is Shibarium. The biggest advance with Shibarium is the expectation of considerably lower fees -- or potentially no fees at all -- to complete transactions. These lower fees are important, considering that the Shiba Inu ecosystem involves game development and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). It's critical that future services offer lower fees than what's available on the Ethereum blockchain.
Shibarium is in the middle stages of its development, and Project Leader Shytoshi Kusama believes it'll launch within a year.
3. Update(s) on the Oshiverse
A third important catalyst for SHIB in the upcoming year is the development of the "Oshiverse." This is a term being used to describe a play-to-earn video game that'll be available to users running iOS or Android on their smart device.
Building decentralized applications and games on blockchain isn't anything new in the cryptocurrency space. But dangling a play-to-earn carrot in front of gamers can be a powerful tool to encourage coin adoption and grow Shiba Inu's community.
It's also worth noting that sales generated from in-app game purchases might be used as an opportunity to burn additional coins. Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin sent approximately 410 trillion of SHIB's 1 quadrillion token supply to a dead blockchain address, which effectively took them out of supply for good. The idea with ongoing coin burn is it'll make each of the remaining coins that much more valuable.
In the grand scheme of things, Shibarium needs to launch before the Oshiverse becomes the focus. Thus, updates on the Oshiverse will be key in 2022.
4. Listing on Robinhood
Shiba Inu hodlers and enthusiasts have gathered over 500,000 signatures through Change.org in an attempt to coerce Robinhood's leadership to list SHIB for trading. Having access to Shiba Inu on Robinhood would be a symbolic victory on a widely followed trading platform, and it would mark another notch on the ladder in terms of improving Shiba Inu's liquidity.
Robinhood has a financial interest to make the move, too. Transaction-based cryptocurrency revenue plummeted in the third quarter to $51 million from $233 million in the sequential second quarter. The popularity of SHIB could help draw additional revenue.
Nevertheless, Robinhood may not be looking to budge -- at least within the next couple of months. In an interview with Decrypt, Christine Brown, chief operating officer of Robinhood Crypto, said: "I also think that our strategy is a little bit different than a lot of the other players out there who are just racing to list as many assets as possible right now. We think that the short-term gain we might get is not worth the long-term trade-off for our users."
5. ShibaSwap staking
Lastly, look for decentralized exchange ShibaSwap to remain a potential upside catalyst in 2022. ShibaSwap was launched in July and allows users buy and sell SHIB (along with other tokens), as well as buy, sell, or trade Shiboshi NFTs.
However, the most intriguing aspect of ShibaSwap might just be its most boring function: staking.
Staking coins to earn passive income is nothing new in the cryptocurrency realm. But to stake coins and earn passive income requires patience. If Shiba Inu is going to shed the meme mentality that currently follows it around, the average holding period for SHIB is going to have to increase dramatically. ShibaSwap provides that incentive to boost the typical holding time, which in turn could minimize wild swings in the price of Shiba Inu coin.
It's worth pointing out that, in a little over five weeks, the median hold time for SHIB on Coinbase Global has risen from six days to 32 days.
A reality check
While there are no shortage of possible catalysts for the world's hottest cryptocurrency, I'd be remiss if I didn't also provide a reality check for its hodlers and prospective investors.
For starters, Shiba Inu has extremely limited utility outside cryptocurrency exchanges. Online business directory Cryptwerk lists only 375 merchants worldwide as accepting SHIB for payments -- and over 10% of these merchants are just crypto exchanges. Comparatively, there are more than 500 million entrepreneurs in the world. The blunt reality is SHIB isn't useful in the real world.
Another gut check for hodlers is that Shiba Inu offers no true competitive edge or differentiation. While some might point to Shiboshi NFTs or the Oshiverse as differentiation, I'll remind you that plenty of other projects are incorporating NFTs and games. There's absolutely nothing about Shiba Inu that stands out and says, "This is the factor that'll make businesses fight to accept SHIB." If it can't stand out from the crowd, it's not going to retain a $21.5 billion market value.
History also provides a warning. Payment coins that have previously gained 24,000% or more in a short time frame have reversed to lose 93% to 99% of their value in an equally short period. The chance is extremely high that a 54,000,000% gain in less than a year is going to be met with an equally epic pullback.