As cryptocurrency gains mainstream acceptance we have seen Bitcoin take on many of the mediums of fiat money – ATMs, debit cards, financial derivatives, and even cryptocurrencies whose value is tethered to assets.
Now, in an interesting new development, a firm in Singapore has begun to sell Bitcoin banknotes. Or rather, smart banknotes.
These notes are not really made of paper; they are hardware storage units with a S3D350A chip manufactured by Samsung. What they have in common with banknotes is that they represent one set value and can be physically given as payment at an outlet. In essence, these notes are self-contained wallets with their own private key. Tangem refers to them as “uncopiable cold wallet[s]”.
According to a Tangem post in Medium, the chip technology is tamper-proof, addressing “all known attack vectors on hardware and software levels.” It says that years of chip development via credit cards, SIM cards, and ID cards have led to a product secure enough that “cost of hacking a single banknote [is] uneconomical”.
The notes have an advantage over online transactions because payment is instant and does not incur a fee. They will, of course, share the disadvantages of all physical transactions as compared to online transactions, that is, security, distance, and convenience.
They are available for purchase now in denominations of 0.01 and 0.05 BTC, according to a company press release. At the current price these equal 94 and 469 USD respectively, according to coinmarketcap.com.
Tangem is headquartered in Zug and has offices in Hong Kong and Singapore. Its research and development centres are in Taiwan, Russia, and Israel. Manufacturing takes place in South Korea and China.