MonaCoin, or MONA, is a digital currency created in 2013. It is predominately used in Japan.


MonaCoin was launched in 2013 as part of the MonaCoin Project. It is named after "Monā" or "Mona," an Internet meme based on a cat-like figure created using ASCII characters that was popularized on the online community 2channel (or 2chan).

The development of the currency was announced over 2channel, which serves as a major information hub for technology enthusiasts. The cryptocurrency was the brainchild of “Mr. Watanabe,” who – like bitcoin’s Satoshi Nakamoto – has never been incontrovertibly identified.

The algorithm that powers the cryptocurrency is called Lyra2RE(v2), and the currency itself is a fork from Litecoin. New coins are issued as payment for mining activities, which allow the ownerships of tokens to be recorded into the MonaCoin blockchain.

Processing a block of transactions results in an award of MONA, with the amount of coin awarded for mining activities set to halve approximately 1 million blocks (an estimated three years). The total number of coins that will be ultimately made available is 105,120,000, and no coins were “pre-mined” before becoming available to the public. As a result, the initial developers would not be expected to make a profit because no mining activities would have been conducted for their own account in the early stages.

MonaCoin bills itself as the first Japanese cryptocurrency, and is predominately used in Japan. MonaCoin is accepted as payment by several stores, both online and physical, and is also traded on several digital currency exchanges. MonaCoin has been approved by Japan's Financial Services Agency and has been added to several exchanges. As with other cryptocurrencies, becoming available on more exchanges tends to increase transaction volumes.

MonaCoin has smaller trading volumes than Bitcoin and Ethereum. This partially due to its novelty, as well as its concentration in Japan. It is most frequently used through third-party mobile applications to provide tips, including in online games. The currency can be stored in and exchanged through Monappy. This is an online platform where MonaCoin holders can exchange coins for digital assets, such as coupons, electronics, and other items. The Monappy website also features online game streamers that accept MonaCoin as tips. MonaCoin can also be stored in third-party e-wallets.

Speculation as to why MonaCoin was created often focuses on a cultural desire in Japan to create a national version of well-known products. This desire is borne out of people wanting products and services that they feel they can relate to, both in terms of being created in Japan as well as having documentation and other content written in Japanese. Despite its strong association with Japan, MonaCoin is not designed to be a national cryptocurrency, such as Iceland’s Auroracoin.

Adoption and use of cryptocurrencies has been much easier in Japan from a regulatory standpoint, with cryptocurrency considered a legal method of payment. Japan has a relatively high number of “smart” automatic teller machines (ATMs) capable of handing cryptocurrency trading.