The world is watching U.S. markets with great interest, and more than a little FOMO, as Reddit investors continue to test their might against Wall Street.
It all started when retail investors on the Reddit community wallstreetbets began pumping the price of U.S. video game retailer GameStop’s (GME) stock to counter Wall Street hedge funds that were “shorting” or betting against it. What the Reddit group did, and the reaction of the mainstream as the stock skyrocketed, reminded many of crypto trading.
Meanwhile, the world watches, with some seeing what happened with GameStop as a more global story of ordinary investors taking on the power of big institutions.
“We are very much interested in what is happening in the U.S. for many reasons. For some of us, it is the feeling that we can now also play in the market and we are also seeing how the markets actually get manipulated to serve only the rich. This isn’t a movie. … We saw this happen,” Bernard Parah, founder and chief executive officer of Nigerian crypto trading startup Bitnob, told CoinDesk via an email.
According to Parah, Nigerian investors were buying GME using a number of apps including Bamboo and Trove, which allow U.S. equity trading.
In India, small retail investors were quick to jump in on the action, with GameStop becoming one of the top five traded stocks on Stockal, a platform used by Indian investors to trade U.S. equities, according to Bloomberg.
Retail investors in China also wanted in, with some users excitedly sharing their gains on social media. There are about 177 million retail investors in China.
After the U.S. retail trading platform Robinhood limited users from buying certain trending stocks including GME, European investors who still had access continued to trade: wallstreetbets alleged that they helped keep the GME price up despite the trading restrictions.
“GME makes you feel the power of the people around the world. … After the Europeans, Asian people are joining the fight to support the movement. It makes your blood boil just by watching it,” one Chinese user wrote on popular social media app Weibo.
Meanwhile, the Reddit investors’ strategy to counter shorted stocks went global, according to Bloomberg journalist Tracy Alloway: Bloomberg reported earlier this week that heavily shorted stocks were rallying in Australia and Japan. Nikkei Asia reported the same trend was seen in Hong Kong and Malaysia.
The turmoil didn’t stop there. Soon, Reddit investors were pumping other shorted or meme stocks including dogecoin (DOGE), a cryptocurrency that was created as a joke. DOGE started rallying after a Twitter user calling himself the chairman of wallstreetbets (though who is not affiliated with the subreddit) asked followers about the cryptocurrency.
Responding to the hype, Nigerian social payments app Bundle Africa listed dogecoin on Friday. An hour later, it was the second-most bought asset on Bundle that day.
“We are definitely feeling the spillover in crypto as people move to buy DOGE as a reaction to what’s been happening in the U.S.,” Yele Bademosi, chief executive officer of Bundle, told CoinDesk via Twitter.
Colombian investors were getting curious about dogecoin, Alejandro Beltrán, country manager of crypto exchange Buda.com told CoinDesk. Buda.com does not list Dogecoin, and it has no current plans to do so, Beltrán added.
Some users in Japan watched the dogecoin price run with skepticism, with one user comparing it to a local meme-based cryptocurrency called monacoin.
“It is a remarkable activity in the market this week, and one which is yet to be determined as healthy or otherwise,” Jon Squires, chief executive officer of crypto exchange Currency.com, told CoinDesk.
According to Squires, on Thursday, the platform had 10 times the typical number of new clients.
In Nigeria, Parah says there has been a lot of activity in the various investor communities.
“Even on Whatsapp statuses, you have people asking things like, “What is a short squeeze?” or “What does it mean to short?”… It’s been crazy watching this happen in real time,” Parah said.