What is Luna? Crypto token soars past Dogecoin and Shiba Inu

Cryptocurrencies are looking worse for the wear after a rampant sell-off this past weekend, but for Terraform’s shiny Luna coin, it was the best of times. It’s not just among the few tokens that haven’t lost value, but it’s charging full speed ahead after a monthslong bull run landed the coin in the top 10 cryptocurrencies by market capitalization, according to CoinGecko.

Here’s what to know:

Luna coin, or LUNA, was created by Terraform Labs, a cryptocurrency company founded in 2018 by South Korean entrepreneurs Do Kwon and Daniel Shin.

This year, the concept of decentralized finance—or DeFi—exploded on the scene. Such a system would rely wholly on a vast network of blockchain technology, and Ethereum—which has its own token, ETH—is currently the leading blockchain platform. But other companies have emerged to challenge Ethereum’s dominance, such as Solana and Avalanche, both of which engineered their own blockchains and claim to have faster processing and fewer energy costs than Ethereum. Industry analysts call these competitors “Ethereum killers,” which are attacking problems Ethereum has yet to solve, such as transitioning to proof-of-stake protocols over proof-of-work for crypto mining.

Luna parent Terraform is another such killer, with its own blockchain network designed to temper the infamous volatility of cryptocurrency assets. Terraform uses algorithms to generate stablecoins, or cryptocurrencies whose values are stabilized by pegging them to external assets, such as fiat currency or gold.

As crypto advocates have sought to push DeFi into the mainstream, they’ve increasingly flocked to Ethereum alternatives—Solana’s token is currently the fifth biggest crypto coin by market cap, and Avalanche’s is twelfth after a nearly 500% surge since August. It now seems to be Luna’s turn, as the token has nearly doubled in value over the past two weeks. It’s up 36.5% over the last seven days, rocketing above cult meme-tokens Dogecoin and Shiba Inu.

Terraform is in the midst of a spat with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over whether it’s selling unregistered securities, as the federal agency aims to begin regulating the burgeoning crypto universe.

It definitely has a long way to go: Crypto poster child bitcoin still reigns supreme with a market cap nearing $1 trillion (Ethereum is a distant second at around $500 billion, and Binance Coin is third at roughly $100 billion). Luna’s market cap is just $27 billion. However, the business of Ethereum killers is booming, with experts calling the new class of rivals—which also includes number six coin Cardano and number fourteen coin Polygon—the next millionaire makers.