As cryptocurrencies have dog-paddled back to life after the industry hurricanes of last year, one token has been leading the pack: the Shiba Inu (SHIB) coin, which has been pumping on Twitter and Discord for weeks now. Its price has jumped nearly 60% since the start of 2023, outpacing bigger rival tokens such as Ethereum (up 37%) and Bitcoin (up 41%).
In all the excitement, one word has been buffeted about: “Shibarium.” Is it some kind of Lollapalooza-esque jamboree for crypto enthusiasts? A new noble gas on the periodic table? Here’s what to know:
What is Shibarium?
Shibarium is an upcoming blockchain network that will be linked to the Shiba Inu coin. It is a “Layer-2” blockchain that’s being built on top of the Ethereum blockchain, which forms the backbone for Shiba Inu and all of its operations.
(Ethereum, meanwhile, is a “Layer-1” blockchain, meaning it’s a type of foundational blockchain architecture, while Layer-2s are third-party protocols that can be integrated with Layer-1 functionality—much like how third-party software engineers can design apps that are supported by fundamental operating systems like Android or Linux.)
The introduction of Shibarium will be a major expansion in the Shiba Inu universe. Critically, it will serve as a scaling solution, allowing for Shiba Inu to grow and run smoothly with much higher demands on its system. It’s expected to speed up token transactions, and lower the associated “gas” taxes that users must pay for those transactions.
The Shibarium network will also come with an enhanced mechanism to “burn” Shiba Inu coins out of existence, i.e. to permanently decrease the supply of tokens. Doing so makes the remaining coins more valuable to holders, and helps to resolve one of the conundrums of the SHIB ecosystem’s sustainability—the fact that it originally minted a ridiculously large 1 quadrillion tokens. (That number is 10 to the 15th power, or 1 followed by 15 zeros.)
That’s partly why SHIB’s price is still so minuscule ($0.000012 per token, as of today). One YouTuber estimated it would take approximately 1,157,174 years for SHIB’s supply to be cut down to 1 billion tokens, although the market is already responding well to the quicker burn rate.
When is it coming?
The Shibarium network will launch its beta version next week, and it’s targeting sometime in May for an official debut.
However, Shiba Inu developers—as well as followers, known as the SHIBARMY—have already been busy drumming up hype for Shibarium on the interwebs. Shibarium’s lead developer—who goes only by the screen-name Shytoshi Kusama, in keeping with the crypto-world trend of maintaining online alter-egos—has been revealing the project’s road map in bits and pieces. On Monday, he unveiled the Shibarium portal, a website where SHIB believers can sign up to be part of a community that will build on Shibarium’s future open-source technology.
In a blog post, he wrote, “I’ve met everyone from a guy that sold dates (the fruit), to a car salesman, musicians, and more. I’ve heard of hundreds of people who want to collaborate or work with us on Web3, Web4, Metaverse, Shiba Eternity and more. Now, all those people have a chance.”
Shibarium’s road map also includes several new tokens: BONE, LEASH, and TREAT, which will serve as governance and rewards tokens for members of the community. In the past few weeks, SHIB’s price has spiked on news that some cryptocurrency exchanges, such as Gate.io, Bitget, and CoinRabbit, have agreed to list the first of these tokens, Bone Shibaswap.
Why should I care?
If you’re not a crypto investor, you don’t really have to, except to cry for a second over the fact that you might’ve turned $100 into roughly $3 million in two years on the tails of the Shiba Inu coin.
But lucrative prospects aside, Shiba Inu’s rise is a testament to the power of the grassroots rally in today’s times. (Think of the magic that Reddit’s WallStreetBets worked on GameStop and AMC, for better or worse.) SHIB started as a joke bid from the meme crowd, to troll fans of fellow token Dogecoin and topple its status as the world’s favorite Japanese-dog-inspired cryptocurrency. Now look! SHIB is a top-15 cryptocurrency with a market capitalization of $7 billion on the edge of becoming a full-fledged blockchain operation, even despite the freeze of crypto winter.
And when Shiba Inu does roll out its blockchain, it could—in theory—become far more than just a gold mine for speculators. Having its own blockchain network would open up Shiba Inu’s universe for its loyal followers to contribute more than just a Twitter call to “HODL” or a few thousand dollars of investment. They could create crowd-sourced new applications for SHIB, perhaps new utility that has never even been dreamed up before.
But if Shytoshi Kusama builds it, will they come? That’s the $7 billion dollar question.