• Even as the new Covid-19 variant sinks the Bitcoin price and crypto markets, a tiny cryptocurrency called Omicron is skyrocketing

  • This week, a new, rapidly spreading Covid-19 variant known as omicron sent bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and traditional markets into a tailspin, prompting investors to “be on guard.”

    This week, the bitcoin price fell more than 5% in a matter of hours, bringing its decline from all-time highs of around $69,000 per bitcoin to 20%, plunging bitcoin into a technical bear market and wiping billions of dollars from the combined cryptocurrency market capitalization.

    However, the price of one tiny cryptocurrency, coincidentally named omicron, is suddenly soaring, increasing by around 500 percent in the days since the World Health Organization named the new Covid-19 variant—reminding us of the sudden rise and fall of a scam Squid Game-inspired cryptocurrency last month.

    The volatile cryptocurrency market, which can cause even larger and more established coins to experience sudden, double-digit percentage gains and losses, frequently sees tiny cryptocurrencies skyrocket in value only to crash a short time later.

    Last month, an amateurish cryptocurrency project inspired by the viral Squid Game TV show but unaffiliated with it or Netflix saw its squid cryptocurrency rise by thousands of percent before plummeting to near nothing.

    This year, a flood of meme-based cryptocurrencies, led by dogecoin and its main rival shiba inu, has rocketed up the cryptocurrency price charts as traders bet hype fueled by the likes of Tesla billionaire Elon Musk will translate to long-term value.

    According to cryptocurrency price data tracker CoinGecko, the price of omicron’s omic coin has risen from around $50 to nearly $400 in the last few days. Despite its recent surge, neither CoinGecko nor the Crypto.com bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchange have enough data on omicron to assign a market capitalization.

    Omicron, described as a “decentralized treasury-backed currency protocol” based on the ethereum scaling technology Arbitrum and launched just a few weeks ago, is only available for trading on the contentious decentralized exchange SushiSwap. Such exchanges, whose decentralized nature means there is no centralized authority in charge, are known to be frequently targeted by hacks, exploits, and so-called rug pulls, which result in user funds being stolen.

    Meanwhile, despite this week’s bitcoin price drop, bitcoin and crypto market observers are generally upbeat.

    “The news of a new Covid variant coming out of South Africa triggered a broad-based sell-off across asset classes,” Martha Reyes, head of research at digital asset prime brokerage and exchange Bequant, said via email. “If lockdowns occur, which is not our base case scenario, this will result in additional helicopter money, which will ultimately benefit digital assets.”

    “The cryptocurrency market, for the most part, does not correlate with traditional markets,” said Tally Greenberg, head of business development at blockchain company Allnodes, in an email. “However, there are times, such as today, when even cryptocurrency is influenced by global events. The discovery of a new Covid-19 variant has shook the world, adding to the uncertainty about our global recovery path, causing a significant drop in large and small cryptocurrencies as well as a drop in stocks and bonds across all nations.”

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