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Monacoin (MONA) is a meme cryptocurrency that was launched in 2014 on Japan’s 2channel. The coin is based on an ASCII-art character of a cat called “mona,” which is popular on Japanese online forums. Monacoin was Japan’s first cryptocurrency and its popularity as a meme coin now rivals Dogecoin.

Monacoin was released by a person or a group of people known pseudonymously as “Mr. Watanabe.” The real identity of Mr. Watanabe remains a mystery. When Mr. Watanabe first introduced Monacoin, he suggested that the coin was a game and its mission is to find its hashes. It would be similar to the currencies found in roleplaying games like Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest etc. Mr. Watanabe made it clear that MONA is not supposed to be a form of security, but more like points that are collected and spent on the network.

With its quirky name and cat logo, Monacoin naturally fit into Japan’s otaku culture. It has grown to become Japan’s favorite meme coin and is commonly used to tip users on Japanese forums. Monacoin is also accepted in a growing number of online and physical shops in Japan as well as websites like Japanese bulletin board AskMona and Monappy, which is basically a Japanese version of Ebay.

Monacoin Value, Market Cap and Volume

Monacoin has a hard cap of 105,120,000 MONA that will ever be released. The coin was launched without a pre-mine and is consistently in the top 100 cryptocurrencies by market capitalization. Like many other coins, the value of MONA increased exponentially between November and December of 2017. At that point its total market cap briefly exceeded $1 billion USD, hitting a high of $19.22. Since that time the price of Monacoin has pulled back significantly, but it still experiences periods of volatility.

How Monacoin Works

Monacoin was forked from Litecoin and is a scrypt-based cryptocurrency. It generates a new block every 1.5 minutes and uses the Dark Gravity Wave (DGW) difficulty-readjustment algorithm that was originally developed for Dash to adjust its mining difficulty and protect the network against time warp exploits. DGW uses moving averages to determine the best change to the mining difficulty.

Monacoin activated the Segwit on March 13, 2017 and its developers are reportedly working on implementing the Lightning Network to provide users with instant transactions, exceptionally low fees, and cross-chain transactions. Lightning will also make Monacoin scalable and capable of handling millions to billions of transactions per second across the network.

The adoption of Segwit and Lightning will allow Monacoin to implement many innovative features and tools, including off-chain solutions and second layer protocols which were previously not available because of technological limitations.

Monacoin vs. Other Cryptocurrencies

Monacoin is somewhat similar to Dogecoin in that it is also a meme coin that gained surprising traction and became extremely popular in a short amount of time. But unlike Dogecoin, Monacoin is not a “joke” currency with billions of coins in circulation. Monacoin shares most of Litecoin’s features and is different from Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for similar reasons:

Mining algorithm – it is a scrypt currency that favors high-speed RAM rather than raw processing power alone.

Fast block time – a block is generated every 1.5 minutes, which is faster than Litecoin’s 2.5 minutes.

Large coin supply – Unlike Bitcoin (21 million) and Litecoin (84 million), Monacoin has a hard cap of 105 million coins.

Activated Segwit – Monacoin was one of the altcoins that activated Segwit in 2017.

Lightning network implementation – Monacoin’s developers are working on implementing the Lightning Network.

Dark Gravity Wave – Monacoin uses DGW protect its blockchain from the time warp exploit and enable faster transactions.

Buying and Storing Monacoin

MONA is mostly listed on several (mostly Asian) crypto exchanges, such as ZAIF, Bitbank, Fisco, BitFlyer, Bittrex, UpBIT, Livecoin, Shapeshift, and Bleutrade. ZAIF has the highest volume of MONA likely because it accepts Japanese Yen.

For secure storage, the Monacoin team has released a core wallet that works on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. If you want a lightweight wallet client, they recommend Electrum Mona. For mobile storage, Coinomi (Android only) is currently your best bet.

Liquidity of Monacoin

The success of Monacoin in Japan is likely the result of country’s desire to produce a native version of pretty much everything with information in Japanese. The documentation and forums for most of the popular cryptocurrencies tend to be in English and therefore inaccessible to the Japanese. It was really only a matter of time before someone designed an altcoin specifically for Japan.

Monacoin’s focus on the Japanese market is a bit of a double-edged sword. While it’s beneficial for people who live in Japan and speak Japanese, it makes the coin inaccessible to the international community. It doesn’t help that Monacoin is not yet listed on any of the major international crypto exchanges. Adoption outside of Japan has been slow, but Monacoin is still liquid on exchanges that carry it and can easily be traded for other crypto coins or even fiat currencies.

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