So you think BTC is digital money? Think again, Bitcoin might be about to become a physical thing.
A new startup is working on creating the first bitcoin-backed banknotes with the goal of making Bitcoin suitable for offline transactions, streamlining the experience for non-tech-savvy users.
The startup’s name is Noteworthy. It is an initiative created by the former director of the US Department of the Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) Larry Felix and the founding chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation Peter Vessenes.
Bitcoin: A Peer to Peer Physical Cash System
Noteworthy’s sole and primary focus appears to be to bring Bitcoin back into the real world, although the team has yet to share a physical sample of how they intend to do so. However, the credentials of all of its board of members and explanations shared on an official PR lend a lot of weight to Noteworthy’s offering.
“Each note comes equipped with a secure cryptographic microprocessor, and, utilizing all of the banknote industry’s highest security features, Noteworthy notes will look and feel like top-of-the-line currency while providing the highest grade of digital security directly embedded in each note.”
The use of such advanced technology make each unique bill almost impossible to duplicate, counterfeit or modify. According to Noteworthy, the bills have the same quality and security standars as official fiat banknotes. “While digital assets are becoming more mainstream, they still lack the level of trust, familiarity, and accessibility that a physical banknote provides.” Noteworthy said.
The team did not rule out the possibility of working on bills representing other cryptocurrencies – although they did not specify which ones, nor do they mention the method by which they will back the value of each note.
But… Is It a Good Idea?
The idea of a physical Bitcoin has been floating around in the heads of many crypto enthusiasts for quite some time. One of the most critical use cases applies to locations with limited internet access. Precisely in more impoverished areas where the unbanked population abounds, internet access tends to be very poor, so cryptocurrencies have no room to grow.
Some physical Bitcoin initiatives are geared more towards collectibles than real money creation. For example, companies like Titan Bitcoin issue commemorative coins with the keys to a wallet with a certain amount of bitcoin inside, also some funds have experimented with physically-backed crypto ETPs and similar offers to provide some price exposure.
However, a utility like real money has yet to be appropriately implemented. If Noteworthy takes off, it will have a world of possibilities at its fingertips.
Peter Vessenes expressed his enthusiasm and confidence in the Noteworthy team. He assured that if anyone wants to make Bitcoin bills, this company has the right team.
“I think of this project as ‘Bitcoin has hired the world’s best banknote team … When I started working in Bitcoin, 1 BTC was worth less than $0.0005. Today we’re discussing a $50,000 banknote. That’s an incredible thing and I’m super excited that Larry, Manuela, and Thomas are bringing it to life!”
How will the Bitcoin community digest this idea? It is hard to tell, especially because many crypto Bitcoin proponents dream day by day of a cashless society. However, considering Bitcoin is just a new, different cash system, going physical may not be a crazy idea.
Another interesting question is how will people call this cash version of Bitcoin because, well, Bitcoin Cash is already taken.