Monacoin (MONA), a little-known cryptocurrency in the west that enjoyed some popularity in Japan a few years ago, has recently seen its price surge by 140% after Coincheck, a hacked cryptocurrency exchange, announced it was listing it.

The listing announcement reveals monacoin is set to start trading on the platform this month, and seemingly triggered traders’ interest in the cryptocurrency, as its price surged by 140% shortly after. CryptoCompare data shows the crypto went from less than 120 JPY ($1.1) to a 300 JPY ($2.77) high, before correcting to 272 ($2.54).

Monacoin's price performance in the last 30 days

While monacoin isn’t a popular crypto in the United States and Europe, the cryptocurrency has enjoyed widespread popularity in Japan. monacoin is a meme-based cryptocurrency, similar to Dogecoin, that uses a cat as its mascot.

The scrypt-based cryptocurrency was created through a hard fork of Litecoin. According to CoinDesk, back in 2014 several businesses in Japan accepted monacoin payments, and an online tipping system had been launched.

The cryptocurrency’s popularity surged after it was featured on a Japanese television report on the “World Business Satellite” program, which mentioned a man bought a plot of land in Nagano Prefecture using monacoin. At the time, a tweet published by the program stated:

This piece of land was recently purchased for 32,001 MONA. ‘Mona’ is an internet-based ‘virtual currency’ unit started in Japan. Virtual currencies have been on the wane due to bitcoin’s scandals, but now the next trend is starting to appear from Japan. Report from our Economic Case Files.

Monacoin became a meme in Japan as it was a good match for Japan’s ‘otaku’ culture. It was introduced by a pseudonymous “Mr. Watanabe” in December of 2013, and according to historical charts has remained relatively active since then, although last year’s bear market saw the crypto’s price plunge.

Coincheck, on the other hand, is a leading Japanese cryptocurrency exchange that earlier this year received a license approved by the country’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) after improving its risk management and governance systems.

Some cryptocurrency users know Coincheck as it suffered a security breach that saw hackers steal $530 million worth of NEM tokens from its wallets. In April of last year, the Monex Group, a Japan-based brokerage firm, acquired the exchange for $34 million.

Featured image via Marco Verch, Flickr, CC by 2.0