Back in early December last year we heard that people in Channel Island of Alderney had been working on the idea of producing physical Bitcoins as part of their grander plan to reinvent the British crown dependency as a global hub of digital currency. Since then things have been quiet and there hasn’t been any follow-up since the initial report.
Obviously the island was not the only one working on the idea, and now it appears that it had lost the race to some Chinese guy who had just put the idea into execution.
A post published on 8btc.com, a Chinese Bitcoin news portal, shows photos of gorgeously-looking gold coins that also contain information entitling the owner(s) to one Bitcoin per physical coin. The author of the post claimed that he was commissioned by a businessman friend to make these coins and made clear that they were for private collection, rather than market consumption or circulation. The coins, made of pure gold, weigh one ounce each and have their private keys engraved on the back in 2D barcode, enabling the owners to access them by using smartphones – the images were pixelated for anyone who intend to try his luck. Because each coin contains a unique serial number and unique barcode pattern, they were made individually, which made the process quite time consuming – It took the author three months to produce a total of 101 coins. As much as I like the coins – who won’t? – I am less than certain if its claim, which is engraved to the coin too, namely “The World’s First Gold-backed Physical Bitcoins”, is legitimate, but I can’t find any contenders either.
Bitcoin is sometimes called digital gold. It simulates gold in many aspects, however, no matter how perfectly it resembles gold, one thing it can’t simulate is to recreate the yellowish bling effect; besides, our primitive homo sapiens brains are just not evolved enough to appreciate its virtual-ness. If the intangibility has prevented some conventional-minded gold investors from making the jump, then the idea of the digital marrying the physical may offer a way to meet them halfway. To admire your digital assets in pure golden gorgeousness or gaze at strings of numbers on the computer screens – you don’t need me to tell you which one is more gratifying.
One tricky matter is however these coins are not suitable for transaction – You can never be sure if the previous owner didn’t secretly keep a copy of the private keys, or the Bitcoin that you are suppose to get hasn’t been spent. Hopefully, this problem will be solved in the next generation of the “Gold-bitcoin”.
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