The price of ether jumped on Friday as investors gambled on crypto’s newest memecoins.
Ether closed higher by 5.61% at about $1,990, according to Coin Metrics. It’s still below the key $2,000 level it briefly broke through in April following the Shapella upgrade. Earlier in the day it rose more than 6% to hit a high of $1,999.59.
Bitcoin ended the day higher by at $29,501.16. It’s inching back towards the $30,000 level it’s struggled to recover since mid-April.
Market participants put the move on attempts to bring meme mania back to crypto. Cryptocurrencies rallied to start the year but has largely seen low volatility. Many investors have kept on the sidelines following the collapse of FTX, waiting for the market to wash out bad actors and irresponsible or otherwise unserious ventures that contributed to some of the catastrophic events of 2022.
Memecoins like PEPE and SPONGE as well as dogecoin or shiba inu are driven by hype and social media and many investors have suffered significant losses from investing in them.
“There’s a ton of memecoin activity on chain right now that’s generating a lot of gas fees,” or transaction fees on the Ethereum network, and “pushing ETH further deflationary,” meaning its supply is decreasing rather than increasing, said Michael Rinko, a research analyst at Delphi Digital.
The newly created SpongeBob token (SPONGE), which is based on Spongebob Squarepants and launched Thursday, has surged almost 600% since and is trading at less than 1 cent per coin, according to CoinMarketCap.
Pepecoin (PEPE), based on the Pepe the Frog internet meme, is up more than 120% over the past 24 hours, CoinMarketCap said. Pepe the Frog was created by cartoonist Matt Furie in the early 2000s. In 2016 it was appropriated by the alt-right to the point that the U.S.-based Anti-Defamation League put on a list of hate symbols.
“One of the main reasons ETH is up … is down to a resurgence of memecoins,” said Conor Ryder, research analyst at crypto data provider Kaiko. “Whatever your thoughts on memecoins, the facts are they drive users to transact on Ethereum, which helps the network earn more fees. Ethereum gas fees have been revived by the return of memecoins, just today hitting 1-year highs.”
“As gas fees increase, more ETH is burned, and at current activity levels ETH is a deflationary asset, which should help boost ETH’s price,” Ryder added. “In the last 24 hours, trading volumes for PEPE on Uniswap have surpassed the volumes of Tether and Wrapped Bitcoin, some of the highest volume tokens on the exchange.”
Ether ended the week higher by 4.53%, marking its second straight positive week and the seventh in the last eight. Coin Metrics measures a week in crypto, which trades 24 hours a day, from the 4:00 p.m. ET stock market close one Friday to the next.
Bitcoin closed the week up just 0.35%. It’s the second straight positive week for bitcoin and its third positive week in four.
—Gina Francolla contributed reporting
This story originally appeared on CNBC