If you think the stock market has performed poorly over the trailing year, take a closer look at the cryptocurrency space. Since peaking at an aggregate valuation of roughly $3 trillion during the second week of November 2021, the total value of more than 21,600 digital currencies has plunged to below $1 trillion, according to CoinMarketCap.com.
While a lot of this value destruction can be blamed on Bitcoin and Ethereum, which together account for nearly 57% of the entire market cap of all cryptocurrencies, the real blame arguably lies with a multitude of other digital currency projects failing to live up to expectations.
Although cryptocurrencies are still relatively young and constantly evolving, some projects and tethered coins are clearly bad news. What follows are three popular cryptocurrencies to avoid like the plague in November.
The first high-profile digital currency to keep your distance from in November is Shiba Inu-inspired meme token Dogecoin (DOGE 3.09%). DOGE tokens have rocketed higher by more than 100% since it became apparent that Tesla (TSLA -0.52%) CEO Elon Musk would close his $44 billion deal to acquire social media site Twitter.
The reason DOGE holders are excited about this deal closing is because Musk has long been a fan of Dogecoin, and has tweeted memes suggesting the token could "go to the moon." Musk has previously appeared on Saturday Night Live as the "Dogefather," has tweeted that he'd work with developers to improve Dogecoin, and it's one of the three cryptocurrencies the Tesla boss has said he owns in his portfolio. Tesla even accepts DOGE as payment for select merchandise.
But in spite of these whimsical catalysts, there's nothing tangible in Dogecoin's sails that can remotely justify its nearly $18 billion market cap.
The biggest issue for Dogecoin is that it's ultimately just a payment coin. There's nothing particularly special about its underlying blockchain technology that would allow it to stand out in a veritable sea of digital currencies which can be used as a form of payment.
To build on this point, it's not a particularly popular payment token, either. Over the past 10-plus months, Dogecoin has added fewer than 100 new merchants on online business directory Cryptwerk. In fact, it took more than eight years for DOGE to be accepted as a form of payment by 2,000 mostly obscure merchants listed on Cryptwerk.
And as I've been pointing out for years, payment coins that deliver historic gains in a short time frame pretty much always implode not longer after. Even though DOGE has retraced as much as 93% from its May 2021 all-time high, history shows that most payment coin bubbles end in even steeper declines. Since Dogecoin offers no competitive advantages, history seems poised to win, once again.
The second digital currency to avoid like the plague in November is gaming-focused token Axie Infinity (AXS 1.30%).
All I can is what a difference a year makes, and oh how wrong I was! At this time last year, Axie was the hottest thing in blockchain-based gaming. Users would collect, raise, and battle monsters known as Axies, earning various experience points along the way. During a six-month stretch ended in mid-January, Axie Infinity generated more than $1.2 billion in decentralized application (dApp) protocol revenue, according to data from TokenTerminal.com.
Something else that helped Axie Infinity stand out at the time was allowing users ownership of their Axies via non-fungible tokens (NFTs). For decades, personal computer and console game developers retained the rights of all in-game creations. Blockchain-based gaming offered to change all that by giving users ownership of their creations, as well as the ability to monetize them.
But as I said, what a difference a year makes. Over the trailing 180 days, through Nov. 2, 2022, Axie Infinity has brought in just $1.6 million in protocol dApp revenue, according to TokenTerminal.com. The story is fairly similar from Be[In]Crypto Research, which estimates that Axie Infinity revenue plunged from $126.5 million in January 2022 to just $3.2 million by June 2022.
To add fuel to the fire, interest in NFTs as a tradeable tool/store of value has effectively fallen off a cliff. According to data from Bloomberg, monthly NFT trading volume has plunged from $17.2 billion in January 2022 to $466.9 million in September 2022. That's a 97% decline for those of you keeping score at home, and a significant detriment to a game-focused business built on the idea of NFT-character ownership and NFT marketplace transactions.
Although blockchain-based gaming may be popular in the future, Axie Infinity is wholly avoidable right now.
The third popular cryptocurrency to avoid like the plague in November is meme coin Shiba Inu (SHIB 5.21%).
Shiba Inu's claim to fame is that it delivered what may well be the largest single-year gain for an investable asset in history. Based on a starting value of $0.000000000073 per SHIB coin at the stroke of midnight on Jan. 1, 2021, SHIB holders found themselves with gains topping 121,000,000% by Oct. 27, 2021. Shiba Inu eventually ended 2021 higher by around 46,000,000% after a pullback. If anything, it's the digital currency that's shown how powerful fear-of-missing-out (FOMO) investing can be in the crypto space.
But just like Dogecoin, Shiba Inu lacks the competitive advantages and differentiation that's necessary to stand out among more than 21,600 (and counting) cryptocurrency projects. At its core, Shiba Inu is an ERC-20 token built on the Ethereum blockchain. Though Ethereum has been a popular choice among for dApp developers, this popularity has translated into relatively slow processing times and costly transaction fees. Plus, as noted earlier, there's nothing special about payment coins.
SHIB isn't a popular payment coin, either. Despite the buzz it creates on Twitter and message boards, Shiba Inu's merchant count has hardly budged this year on Cryptwerk (659, as of November 2022). That's likely a function of SHIB tokens plunging as much as 91% in value over the past year, and merchants being unwilling to accept this wild volatility.
Although Shiba Inu's developers are intent on creating blockchain-based games, the popularity of NFTs and blockchain-based gaming looks to be a ship that's sailed. The buzz that SHIB rode to big gains in 2021 simply can't provide that same level of momentum anymore.
With history the enemy of meme coins, I'd anticipate a far steeper pullback for a project that's yet to prove it's worth $6.7 billion -- or even a fraction of that.