As global markets fell last week following the discovery of the Omicron coronavirus variant, a cryptocurrency with the same name soared after the Greek letter entered the investor lexicon.
The price of the hitherto-obscure digital token, whose Twitter feed has little more than 1,000 followers, rose almost tenfold from Friday to Monday morning, when it hit $688, before tumbling as much as 75 per cent, crypto tracker CoinGecko said.
Omicron the token, which its website describes as “a decentralized treasury-backed currency protocol,” was trading at about $371 at 8.05 pm. On Thursday, it was worth about $65.
The World Health Organization, which on Friday named the new Covid-19 variant Omicron, said it carries a “very high” global risk of surges, although scientists have said it could take weeks to understand its severity.
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Bitcoin suffered its worst day in two months last Friday, dropping by more than 8 per cent as investors dumped stocks and other riskier assets in favour of perceived safe havens like the dollar. It has since recovered nearly all of its losses, with global markets gaining a semblance of calm on Monday.
From Squid Game to Dogecoin, minor cryptocurrencies have this year benefitted from links to memes or web culture, recording rapid booms and busts while more mainstream names such as Bitcoin soar in popularity.
It was not clear when the Omicron token was launched. Data on its price at CoinGecko was only available from November 8, while a Telegram channel under the name OmicDAO was launched a day earlier.
Reuters was not able to reach anyone representing Omicron for comment.