There’s a new player in the increasingly-crowded and increasingly-arbitrary world of cryptocurrency.

“Coinye West,” scheduled to launch on Jan. 11, is — as the name implies — a digital Kanye-themed currency. Its creators aren’t revealing their names, perhaps because the whole project surely constitutes copyright infringement. But they were, in an interview with Vice, forthcoming on their motives: “Coinye West is a cryptocurrency for the masses. Bitcoin is for hardcore money-hoarders, and Dogecoin was more for the Internet-meme crowds … Our goal with Coinye West is to make it easier for people to use cryptocurrency.”

For those of us who still have only the most tenuous of grasps on Bitcoin and Dogecoin, an explainer: These cryptocurrencies are basically decentralized financial systems with their own invented currencies. They’re appealing because they’re anonymous and peer-to-peer — no middle-man! — and thus potentially augur an age of new, more open financial services. (My colleague Tim Lee has written a brilliant explainer on Bitcoin, which you can read here.)

Here’s the thing, though: Because the currencies are invented, and because Bitcoin’s code is open-source, anyone can theoretically start their own. By some estimates, there are more than 60 Bitcoin imitators in circulation now. These novelty Bitcoin knock-offs are, in many cases, jokes — but they can still be worth a lot of money.

That, more than any altruistic interest in educating the Bitcoin-less masses, seems like the likeliest motivation behind this latest coin. But in either case, it’s a pretty entertaining idea.


We have to question why the anonymous creators chose Kanye as a namesake, though. His preference for cash is already pretty well-established.