Channel Island wants to mint gold physical Bitcoins

Posted on November 29, 2013

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Kind of insane story on FT about the Channel Island of Alderney (yeah I’d only just about heard of it too) wanting to make a gold Bitcoin, in conjunction with the Royal Mint. The article has some good details on how the scheme would work. (There’s also a good accompanying article explaining Alderney’s push for independence. H/T @BitcoinByte)

Reading through, it’s not really a Bitcoin – it would be a “a physical commemorative coin with a Bitcoin theme”. In short, you could buy one of the coins, then swap it for Sterling when you get to Alderney, based on the BTC-GBP exchange rate at the time.

So it’s more of a “token” scheme really, a bit like buying a card in advance with magic points on that can spend when you get to the theme park.

Still, it’s an insane and fascinating story on two fronts:

1. “Real” places are starting to take this “seriously” – seriously, not like financially, but at least as a “gimmick”. Bitcoin has become a symbol. And tourist-friendly places, in particular, love to exploit modern trends and things they think are “modern” – it shows “forward thinking” or something. But that’s essential to getting Bitcoin seen as a “legitimate” protocol, rather than one used for shadowy shit. Imagine it. Bitcoin: the friend of Alderney. Forget about Silk Road.

2. The link between Bitcoin and small places/networks/groups is key to its success. It is the participative currency of the outcast, to some extent. There is something in common with the small islands and the back streets – both are vying for attention and power, and for influence through individuality. They have an urge to stand out, whether through crazy symbolic schemes involving gold, or simple graffiti (see also the Black Swan in the image above). Love it or hate it, Bitcoin is inclusive because it is “just” a network protocol.

I kind of hope it works out, but don’t let it distract you from Bitcoin is really about. The Bitcoin symbol is just fun and games – something to play with. But what it stands for, what it’s built on – that’s pokey voodoo.

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Posted in: Finance