One of the bigger complaints about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is that they don’t exist in tangible form. A Swiss startup is solving that problem by creating physical Bitcoin banknotes. For now, this effort is limited to Singapore, but it does have some appeal on an international level as well.
Physical Bitcoin Banknotes With a Purpose
Every time someone creates a physical representation of Bitcoin – or any other cryptocurrency – it is usually a product designed for collectors and genuine enthusiasts. Using a physical Bitcoin or banknote in the real world is very rare, as it is simply impossible to transact it directly. One could scan the QR code to import the funds into a mobile wallet, but that is not the most convenient solution.
Swiss startup Tangem appears to have cracked this nut. The firm has introduced physical Bitcoin banknotes – in Singapore, of all countries. This choice is not random either, as the banknotes aren’t just collectible items. They have S3D350Q chips embedded within them, allowing one to make Bitcoin transactions without using third-party devices.
This is not necessarily a way to buy a brand-new car with Bitcoin, though. The smart banknote will store Bitcoin in denominations of 0.01 and 0.05 BTC. That means the maximum amount capable of being spent is under $500, but it should be sufficient to complete most regular transactions and payments.
Tangem is launching this initiative in Singapore because the Asian country is home to a thriving Bitcoin community. There is genuine interest in cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology alike, which makes it a perfect place for any firm exploring Bitcoin payments.
Using these physical Bitcoin banknotes will be an interesting experiment. With just 10,000 of these notes being made available in the first batch, Tangem will be able to gauge whether or not consumers and merchants actually see merit in this form of payment. If it’s successful, we may very well see similar ventures in other countries across Asia, and potentially the rest of the world.
It appears these banknotes are relatively easy to manufacture. The production costs were around $2, which is pretty low, all things considered. It is a bit unclear how transaction fees will be handled, as there don’t appear to be any. Tangem seems to favor the idea of having users exchange the physical notes rather than complete transactions, although NFC functionality will be enabled as well. All in all, it’s an interesting project to keep an eye on.