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When a cryptocurency token called titan dropped from more than $60 to several thousandths of a cent in the space of a few hours earlier this month, even traders with the thickest of skins were a bit alarmed. 

While rapid price appreciation and equally swift sell-offs are increasingly par for the course in the world of altcoin investing, a zeroing out in value in a day is unusual. Even the firm behind the token itself referred to the event as the world’s “first large-scale crypto bank run.” 

Self-made billionaire investor Mark Cuban, who was personally invested in the token, tweeted Wednesday that he “got hit like everyone else.” 

But the good news for crypto investors is that tokens like titan are their own very special category of coin, whose functionality and use case is fundamentally different than a mainstream digital currency like bitcoin or ether.

Titan is part of “the Wild, Wild West of programmable money and fundraising,” said Scott Spiegel, co-founder at BitBasel, a Miami-based blockchain start-up.

Dropping to $0

Titan is a DeFi token. DeFi is short for decentralized finance, which describes a variety of blockchain-based projects that cut out various middlemen in finance. Want a loan on Christmas Eve at midnight? There’s a DeFi app for that. 

DeFi projects typically issue coins as a way to raise money. Whereas in 2017, crypto start-ups raised capital via initial coin offerings, the path to cash now often happens via