It’s a truism among government officials, from the Bank of England’s governor to the U.S. Treasury secretary, that cryptocurrencies can lead to painful losses for hapless traders piling into a risky game.
But a new cryptocurrency project in China named LoserSwap apparently seeks to own failure, and the concept is gaining a surprising following.
Loser coin, as the associated digital token is known, comes with the trading symbol LOWB – a derogatory term when expressed in the equivalent Chinese spelling. The token works as part of a decentralized platform for exchanging digital assets – similar to the popular protocol PancakeSwap atop Binance Smart Chain (BSC), which is a public blockchain network started by the cryptocurrency exchange Binance. LoserSwap is also based on BSC, and the LOWB/USDT pair first started trading on PancakeSwap.
The two-person team behind LoserSwap recently hosted an online “Ask Me Anything” event, which went viral on the Chinese app WeChat, with fans appearing to warm to the surprisingly candid answers.
“We missed out the whole bull run and are too scared to go into the market right now,” the team members said in response to a question on why they launched Loser Swap. “We decided to launch a token ourselves just for fun.”
At press time, LOWB was changing hands at $0.002139, doubling in price over the prior 24 hours, for a market capitalization of $120.6 million, based on a circulating supply of 60 billion tokens, per CoinMarketCap data.
Everyone here is a chive
The self-deprecation culture has deep roots in China, where small, individual investors in the domestic stock market often think they’re exploited by big institutions that own the majority of shares. Mom-and-pop investors sometimes refer to themselves as “chives,” a common vegetable in the Chinese diet. The idea is that they’re ripe for harvesting and ingesting by big players, and are resigned to major losses.
The project’s website reads like a Chinese proverb on the inevitability of life’s letdowns.
“A poor young man from a fourth-tier city in China invited another poor programmer to jointly launch the loser coin project, the token LOWB,” it reads. “This project was established with a zero mentality. On the day of the project’s launch, the two people took out all their savings to add a liquidity pool. The project promised not to protect the market (mainly lacking strength) and not to run away.”
Trading patterns in LOWB bear remarkable similarities to the anything-goes, just-for-fun price pumps (and dumps) witnessed in social-media-fueled crazes like this year’s frenzy in the joke cryptocurrency dogecoin, or the stock-trading hijinks in GameStop shares in the U.S. stock market.
Just like the vegetable that regrows after parts are harvested, the LOWB price has shown a tendency to keep surging anew because the retail investors in China always return to the market – stocks or crypto – to test their luck once again.
According to the project’s website, there are 100 billion loser coins outstanding, including 20 billion distributed by airdrops, 20 billion to mining pools and 50 billion for in liquid mining “in the later stage.”
The project’s leaders “don’t know how to deal with” the remaining 10 billion, according to the website.
Such self-deprecation hasn’t stopped retail investors in China from pouring their money into LOWB. They see the project and its co-founders as straightforward, harmless, one of us.
There is already a loser coin fan website with the name “the head of chives.” Posters on the site repeatedly seek mutual assurances that fellow traders will buy and hold LOWB. They also share ridiculous posts about their experiences losing money in the bull market.
Rich taste is the worst taste
One post titled “How to know if you’re a loser” listed seven criteria to qualify as a loser, including “loving cheap or free items such as LOWB,” and, “Always feel like you are not fitting in; you always lose money when everyone else is making money.”
“Most retail investors don’t understand the technology” of the projects behind the tokens, said Jeff Zhang, co-founder of a China-based crypto investment firm BlockArk. “There has been a sense of fatigue and antipathy among them after investing in way too many crypto projects.”
On loser coin’s official Telegram group, there were nearly 2,000 active members around midnight in China on Tuesday half-jokingly and half-seriously discussing how they can become instantly rich.
“Time for late night snacks,” one user said in the Telegram group, with a picture of an often costly Chinese dish known as “Buddha jumps over the wall,” made with shark fin, quail eggs, sea cucumber and pork tendons. (Chives aren’t a key ingredient, for what it’s worth.)
“It looks very ‘winner,’” one user followed up.
“You do not look ‘low’ at all,” a second user commented. The derision was palpable.
Annabelle Huang, a partner at Hong Kong-based crypto finance service provider Amber Group, compared the popularity of loser coin to the recent affection in China for the shiba inu token, which bills itself as a “dogecoin killer.” The GameStop mania is another easy comparison, she said.
“Bitcoin is seen more as the establishment and institutional play,” Huang said. “So people are turning to tokens that are more grassroots.”
They just have to be ready to lose.