What is a Shitcoin?

Whitney Anderson
Whitney Anderson
Technology Writer
Last updated: May 20, 2024
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A ‘shitcoin’ is a term used to refer to cryptocurrencies that lack genuine substance, value, and credibility. Little or no innovative intent goes into creating these digital coins, often being made as get-rich-quick schemes by their creators and early investors.

Furthermore, shitcoins can also be derogatory in the sense that they refer to altcoins — cryptos that were created after the popularity of Bitcoin but do not provide any unique value proposition or technological advancement.

The name itself implies that these cryptocurrencies are worthless digital assets with no inherent value or utility. They tend to be illiquid and highly prone to wild fluctuations in prices, mainly driven by market manipulation and frenzied speculation fuelled by aggressive marketing campaigns.

Shitcoins are characterized by overstated marketing claims, and unclear use cases, steered by teams composed of anonymous or unskilled developers who work under pseudonyms. Many of these projects have scant transparency thereby making potential investors unable to conduct due diligence on them to understand their legitimacy and long-term viability.

Key Features of Shitcoins

Shitcoins possess some distinctive attributes which make them easily distinguishable. Their prices are usually artificially inflated through orchestrated pump-and-dump schemes where creators and promoters spread misleading information about the coin to increase both demand for it and its price. This rapid rise is followed by a sharp decline in prices leaving many unsuspecting investors holding onto useless coins as the insiders walk away with huge profits.

Below are some key characteristics of shitcoins:

Creation: Shitcoins often come into existence hastily without much effort. For instance, a creator with simple coding skills can fork an existing blockchain, tweak some parameters then launch his/her coin. Alternatively, they might build a new blockchain from scratch but lack of innovation is generally apparent among all such projects since they rarely offer any real technological advancements or solutions to real-world issues.

Marketing Hype: Frequently, creators of shitcoins use aggressive marketing strategies to attract investors. These individuals use influencers and exploit social media platforms to create excitement about their coin as they make wild assertions that their technology is revolutionary, returns are astronomical or that the coins have unique features that are mostly lies or gross exaggerations. This creates FOMO (fear of missing out) illusions in the minds of many and prompts unscrupulous individuals into making hasty investments.

Pump-and-Dump Schemes: One frequently used tactic by shitcoin creators and promoters is known as the “pump-and-dump” scheme. They inflate the price of the coin artificially through false or misleading information which attracts naïve investors who do not want to miss out on a chance for huge profits. Once the price hits a certain level, those who were behind this whole scheme “dump” their holdings causing the prices to collapse leaving other investors with heavy losses.

Lack of Utility: Shitcoins predominantly lack an actual utility or genuine use case. They don’t offer any technology, product or service with a real-world application in solving a problem or improving existing solutions. Instead, they focus on generating gains for their originators and early participants via speculative trading rather than delivering long-term value to customers or practical applications.

Short Lifespan: Shitcoins often live briefly experiencing moments of hype and speculation before fading away into oblivion. These coins rarely survive in the long-term after their first pump and quick exit by insiders because investors realize there is no substance underneath them and they hold no intrinsic value beyond some profit opportunities.

Security Risks: Shitcoins can be a big problem when it comes to security, as they lack transparency and adequate auditing. Their code may also contain vulnerabilities or backdoors that hackers can use to exploit which endangers the investments of those who have put money into them. Furthermore, most shitcoin projects operate in anonymity and are therefore good candidates for scams and exit schemes.

Some Examples of Shitcoins

Now let us consider some famous cryptocurrencies that have been classified as shitcoins due to their lack of value and integrity:

BitConnect (BCC): BitConnect is an excellent example of a Ponzi scheme masquerading as a cryptocurrency lending platform. The platform gave investors hope in big returns from its lending program that collapsed dramatically in 2018 leading to significant financial losses for the victims.

Dogecoin (DOGE): Dogecoin was created towards the end of 2013 as a joke but became popularized through viral memes and dedicated followership. However, it has no defined practical application or utility making it speculative heavily on critics who often refer to it as a shit token.

Useless Ethereum Token (UET): In 2017, UET was created to test whether people would buy a coin with no purpose or value at all. To everyone’s surprise, some people bought into this token which highlighted how speculative the cryptocurrency market could be and how profitable failure coins can become.

OneCoin: OneLife Network Ltd.’s OneCoin is an infamous fraud case built around cryptocurrency by OneCoin Ltd., founded by Ruja Ignatova, a Bulgarian national who disappeared in 2017 after pocketing over $4 billion while defrauding her customers leaving them with massive losses.

Pepe Coin (PEPE): Pepe Coin exemplifies the kind of volatility that shitcoins are associated with. In just two weeks from April 2023, however, PEPE made its first major pump starting from $0.00000002764 to an all-time high of $0.000004345 thereby delivering a return on investment (ROI) at 563%. Unfortunately, the token’s price subsequently plummeted to 0.0000006232 following this sharp spike, which means those who purchased it at its peak have incurred significant losses.

Pros and Cons of Shitcoin Investment

The attraction for some investors might be quick profit gains but it is important to weigh the risks and rewards before investing in shitcoins.


  • High Volatility: Shitcoins are unstable hence punters with good timing can make money within short periods while playing with market odds against them. Since there is such wild volatility, one can potentially amass great profits even off a small contribution due to sudden price surges.
  • Low Entry Cost: The entry cost of shitcoins is usually low which makes them possible for people with limited funds who are very new to investing. Consequently, it allows investors to purchase large amounts of tokens at a fraction of what other established cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin would cost them otherwise. For instance, the presale price for Shiba Inu (SHIB) started at $0.000000000056 when it was launched on November 28th 2020.
  • Diversification can be achieved by adding some shitcoins to the portfolio, which may provide a cushion against market fluctuations. Nevertheless, this tactic works best for investors with limited funds given that a small investment can get them thousands of new shitcoins. However, due to their extreme volatility, even slight moves in prices could lead to astronomical returns but at higher risk.


  • High Risk: Shitcoins are widely known to be high-risk investments. Many have no practical use-case scenarios and therefore their prices can be manipulated through rug pulls (where the developers abandon the project and run away with investors’ money) and pump-and-dump schemes conducted by insiders. There is also lack of regulation and oversight in cryptocurrency markets which makes shitcoin investing risky.
  • Lack of Transparency: Most times, shitcoin projects are surrounded in secrecy making it difficult for investors to perform proper due diligence. Coin’s legitimacy and long-term potential would be a tough evaluation without any knowledge about the team behind it, technology or its roadmap. This increased opacity raises the chances of being scammed or partaking inadvertently in fraudulent activities.
  • Security Risks: Shitcoins are susceptible to security breaches and attacks. The majority of these tokens operate on unaudited codes coupled with creators who frequently remain anonymous; thus exposing them to vulnerabilities that some may exploit. These precautions might help you avoid pitfalls associated with investing in shitcoins if you take time researching any coin before putting your money into it as an investor.
  • Limited Liquidity: Many shitcoins tend to have low trading volumes as well as liquidity implying that buying or selling huge amounts of them would impact price significantly. Such illiquid nature sometimes leads to slippages when one is exiting positions especially when there is high market volatility or someone wants to sell many coins at once.

Shitcoins vs Meme Coins

Shitcoins and meme coins are often used interchangeably because they have no value outside speculation and hence confuse people. However, there is a difference in their intent and background.

Shitcoins vs Meme Coins

Meme Coins

As the name suggests, meme coins are cryptocurrencies that were mostly created for amusement purposes or as satires.

They borrow from current internet trends, jokes or viral events and adopt popular internet culture/memes inspired by catchy names, logos and branding.

Dogecoin (DOGE) is one of the most well-known examples of this which started as a joke and gradually earned attention after it had developed a community around itself. This has added to its value as a recognized mode of payment within some sectors despite its initial origins being in jest.

Meme coins may not have any inherent use case but they often form strong communities and cultural significance which foster adoption and price appreciation.


However, shitcoins on their part exist solely to enrich their creators and early investors quickly with no regard for long-term profitability or sustainability.

Most of the time, they come with big promises and marketing buzz but have neither real technology nor solutions nor even real-world applications that can be used by anyone apart from their creators or marketers themselves in practice.

Unlike meme coins that embrace humor, shitcoins try to deceive prospective buyers into thinking that they are legitimate innovative projects when in reality they are mere scams intended to disappoint people who will end up buying worthless tokens.

Sometimes memes transition into genuine projects with utility or adoption while shitcoin sell-outs always fail eventually due to being empty inside and having negative intentions at their inception towards investors’ capital destruction.

Understanding what a shitcoin is and how it operates is essential in cryptocurrency. As much as legitimate digital currencies have brought innovation, disruption, and real-world utility, shitcoins remain an underbelly that has the potential to tarnish the industry’s reputation and erode public trust.

For investors, comprehensive research and due diligence are key before investing in any cryptocurrency, especially those with limited transparency, questionable teams, and inflated marketing claims. The crypto world holds an abundance of promise and possibilities while also harboring scams, dodgy projects and shitcoins – prime examples of the downside risks in speculative unregulated markets.

By understanding what makes a shitcoin a shitcoin and through precaution on such red-flagged schemes/projects; they can better navigate the crypto landscape making informed decisions therefore protecting their investments from fraudsters.


What distinguishes between a legitimate cryptocurrency versus a shitcoin? 

A legitimate cryptocurrency normally carries with it intrinsic value useful for solving problems or addressing real-life issues; this value is backed up by competent team players and transparent technology devoted to blockchain developers. On the other hand, these traits are not found in any of these so-called coins which rely on hype trading driving them to attract investors without offering any benefits or solutions at all

How can one identify potential ‘shitcoins’ and avoid falling into scam traps? 

Investors should do thorough research; and exercise due diligence on issues touching on the project’s legitimacy, its technological capability now as well and long-term survival. This involves examining those behind the project; verifying how viable it is depending on its context or relevance within specific market dynamics; assessing if there is enough volume traded on exchanges etc., ensuring that no one makes false assertions about features promised by such projects claiming that they have changed their models thus becoming genuine ones.

Are all low-priced cryptocurrencies considered shitcoins? 

No. Not every inexpensive digital currency amounts to nothing but a fraud case. Though there may be many cheap coins out there, some may have genuine value and be poised for growth as legitimate projects, priced reasonably. Investors need to differentiate between cheap cryptos with potential versus those that are merely speculative or scammy based on their technology, utility and credibility.

Can shitcoins turn into real-world usable projects? 

Although there is a possibility of shitcoins transforming into actual projects with real-life use cases, this rarely happens because it would mean entirely changing the project’s underpinnings, team members and strategy. Most of the time they are created purposely as scams or lack adequate resources and expertise to become reliable and valuable cryptocurrencies. Investors should thoroughly investigate any project claiming to have undergone this transition before investing.

Legal consequences for investing in or promoting a shitcoin will depend on the jurisdiction and surrounding facts; at times engaging in fraudulent schemes involving pump-and-dump activities for such coins could amount to criminal offences punishable through enforcement action by related regulators or even prosecution in courts. Investors who promote this activity should seek professional advice about relevant regulations as well as risks connected with being involved in any form of ‘shitcoin’ transactions.

Are there any attempts by the government to combat the proliferation of shitcoins? 

The regulators and authorities in different parts of the world have taken steps to address the spread of shitcoins and other scams as the cryptocurrency market develops. These measures could include tighter regulation, improved investor safeguards, and legal action against fraudsters. As a result, their regulatory challenges emerge due to cryptocurrencies’ decentralized nature as well as shitcoin activities that extend globally. Thus, many regions still lack formal regulations.

What can be done within the cryptocurrency community to mitigate the negative impact of shitcoins? 

Promotion of education, transparency and accountability amongst members is one way through which the cryptocurrency community can work together to curb this problem caused by shitcoins. For instance, they may support initiatives aimed at sensitizing people to dangers associated with investing in such cryptocurrencies to encourage participation in conversations about them before investing further while ensuring that creators and promoters are held responsible for their actions. In addition, industry-wide standards need to be developed along with best practices and self-regulated frameworks which will provide some trustworthiness to this system.

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Whitney Anderson
Whitney Anderson
Whitney Anderson is a dynamic technology writer and content creator known for her quick learning and strong interpersonal skills. With a passion for community service and travel, she excels in crafting engaging tech content and leading diverse teams. Whitney is eager to bring her tech expertise and creativity to make a significant impact in your organization.

Why Trust Us

Our editorial policy emphasizes accuracy, relevance, and impartiality, with content crafted by experts and rigorously reviewed by seasoned editors for top-notch reporting and publishing standards.

Purchases via our affiliate links may earn us a commission at no extra cost to you, and by using this site, you agree to our terms and privacy policy.

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