The beauty of Bitcoin is something that captures the imagination. The digital money is not tangible or typically viewable by human eye, minus the code and interfaces we use to interact with it. Over the past few years, people have tried to capture the essence of Bitcoin within physical tokens. Today, we will look at three physical Bitcoin alternatives and see how these creations turn the currency into a collectible art form.
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An Emerging Market of Physical Bitcoins
The popular Casascius physical Bitcoins have been around for quite some time, and older versions have been known to be quite valuable. The digital currency enthusiast Mike Caldwell, whose nickname is “Casascius,” created the first printed coins in 2011. The physical coins have a peelable hologram revealing their private keys. When removed, it leaves a tamper-evident pattern. When redeemed, the item loses its digital worth.
Casascius coins were originally made available in multiple increments of BTC stored on the minted piece. However in November of 2013, the creator stopped sales of items containing digital Bitcoins. Before Thanksgiving of that year, Caldwell had been asked to cease operations by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN). Caldwell’s work was considered a money transmitter and regulations for this activity were unbearable. New Casascius coins sold after this event contained no digital currency, but older versions with loaded Bitcoin can still be found on eBay.
Another physical Bitcoin that’s available on the market is Finland-based Denarium coins. The website says that Denarium’s products are made from quality brass produced in the region, and the primary focus of the company is “affordability.” The business was created by Henry Brade Co-founder and CEO of Denarium. Coins are sold in smaller fractions of the digital currency and written in the “bits” format without decimals.
These coins also contain a tamper-resistant hologram, which is produced in Canada. The hologram keeps the private keys secure and protects them from being manipulated. Customers can choose between two types of coin variants, the E-series (empty) and the L-series (loaded). Buyers of the L-series coins can still load more digital currency into the physical mint. The Denarium website states:
“Tired of paying a fortune for a Physical Bitcoin? No more. The key strength of Denarium Bitcoin is affordability. Our coins are gift items anyone can afford to give to friends and family.”
“Value does not exist outside the consciousness of man.“
Raimu Inc. has created a new version of a minted token called Satori Coin. The bright coins resemble poker chips with colorful designs and also contain modest amounts of Bitcoin. The Japanese company believes the virtual money is a “life-altering” event, and Satori is the Japanese-Buddhist term for awakening. Some of the Satori Coin coins designs contain phrases like Carl Menger’s “Value does not exist outside the consciousness of man.“ referencing the company’s knowledge in Austrian economics.
Each minted coin contains 0.001 BTC , and the business envisions selling them over the counter and through vending machines. The coins also have liftable seals that reveal QR codes underneath patterns of concentric hexagons. Raimu hopes the Satori physical coins will become popular in Japan but will also be selling the tokens outside the region. Founder of Satori Coin Motonori Kan recently said in an interview that physical forms of the digital currency may benefit the masses understanding the digital currency.
Physical Bitcoins are crowd pleasers. Casascius told Wired in December of 2013 that he had minted nearly $82 million USd worth of his collectible tokens. Denarium and Satori coin also want to enter this market, creating physical increments of BTC for the world to enjoy.
What do you think about these physical Bitcoin tokens? Let us know in the comments below!
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Casascius, Denarium and Satori coin websites