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Physical Bitcoin: How to Store Physical Bitcoins (2022)

Apr 27, 2022
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Physical Bitcoin: How to Store Physical Bitcoins (2022)

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Imagine being able to carry Bitcoin in your pocket just like a silver dollar or a $100 bill. Wouldn’t it be remarkable to pay for a meal or a movie ticket with a couple of coins backed by cryptocurrency, rather than the boring old dollar bills and change that everyone else uses?

That’s the exact idea behind physical Bitcoin, and like everything else in the world of crypto, there are already capable engineers and marketers hard at work to make it happen!

Physical Bitcoins are real, and although the concept is not as fully developed as we’d like to see, the gears are certainly in motion with several exciting projects worth noting.

Let’s explore the unique world of physical Bitcoins, explain the pros and cons of this idea, and offer some practical tips for you to obtain and store these futuristic units of currency before everyone else hops on the bandwagon.

What Are Physical Bitcoins?

The phrase “physical Bitcoin” might be misleading to those vaguely familiar with crypto and its history.

We must ask a few key questions about physical Bitcoin: how can a digital currency be made physical, and doesn’t this defeat the mission of crypto in general? What is the point of Bitcoin if it can take a physical form and be bartered like nickels and dimes?

These are all fair questions, and they can be addressed with a straightforward response – physical Bitcoins have no inherent value. However, they represent actual Bitcoins via digital keys that are unique to each physical unit, along with some appeal for crypto collectors and enthusiasts.

For instance, a physical Bitcoin (typically shaped like a circular gold coin with a Bitcoin symbol) will have a specific digital code on the back, protected by a hologram seal, allowing the owner to tap into a real Bitcoin online wallet whenever they want.

With this format, you could conceivably turn any physical object into a piece of Bitcoin if you manage to secure the funds digitally and represent them in a substantive form.

Pros and Cons of Physical Bitcoin

The attraction of physical Bitcoin is apparent to anyone who has tracked cryptocurrency trends over the past decade. Primarily, these assets give Bitcoin and other cryptos a reason to exist in reality, rather than just numbers on a screen.

Physical Bitcoin is also a way to decentralize the storage of an asset that is known for decentralization in the first place. You can theoretically hold Bitcoin in dozens of different “locations,” both physical and digital, creating a more secure fortress for your wealth.

Besides, it’s hard to deny that physical Bitcoins look so cool! While they vary in quality and detail, there have been several physical crypto coins that feature authentic weight, sleek profiles, and plenty of custom engravings that crypto fanatics appreciate.

On the flip side, physical Bitcoins do conflict with the central thesis of cryptocurrency, which is that digital money can transcend the need for coin purses, wallets, and the whole process of fumbling around for change at the clerk counter.

While some Bitcoin investors are eager to secure their assets in different formats, others may not want to take the risk by holding crypto in a physical form. As it turns out, many of the original pressed physical Bitcoins were soon compromised once the codes were let loose.

Aside from being a cool collector’s item, physical Bitcoin is not as practical as it may appear, which explains why they never fully caught on in the early years.

There has also been a series of legal issues that have loomed over the head of physical Bitcoin production and utility from the beginning, adding another dimension of difficulty that eventually ended the trend.

Types of Physical Bitcoin

­­Back in the early days of Bitcoin – before it ever breached the $1000 price point – there was a rush to develop and mint physical Bitcoin, both with actual BTC storage capabilities and promotional/collector purposes.

The most memorable attempt at physical Bitcoin arrived in 2013 as the Casascius coin, created by entrepreneur Mike Caldwell.

These were flashy, attractive coins that sparked interest in the crypto space and beyond, especially since there was real Bitcoin to be had with every purchase.

While Casascius coins originally had real BTC value attached to the printed holographic address, Caldwell and his team had to abandon this plan when the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) got involved and shut them down.

After law enforcement set that precedent, the next wave of coins producers was more careful in their tactics.

Alitin Mint took the luxury angle and minted highly exclusive, commemorative coins that were not meant to be used as actual currency. Before long, the coin codes were compromised and made useless beyond their interesting artwork of Adam Smith and Joan of Arc.

Other projects from this early era of Bitcoin are remembered for their unique designs and fun marketing campaigns. Titan Bitcoin had a distinctive set of Greek and Roman imprints, while Antana offered novelty coins with funny inside jokes from crypto culture.

Although the trend of physical Bitcoin fizzled out before crypto went mainstream in 2017, a lucky few folks still own these pieces of history, which have undoubtedly increased in value considering Bitcoin’s immense popularity.

Storing Bitcoin in the Real World

It’s fun to look back on the physical Bitcoin phenomenon and see it as a flash in the pan.

However, the fundamentals of physical Bitcoin remain prevalent in how we use BTC and other cryptocurrencies today.

Hardware Wallets, Cold Storage, and More

We learned a few lessons from the story of physical Bitcoin, mainly that digital currency can take physical form and achieve another layer of security.

Following this logic, many high-profile Bitcoin investors still apply this strategy to keep their assets safe in the real world. The perfect example is a “cold wallet” that isn’t connected to the internet and kept safe in a secure location with a complex password.

These cold wallets appear to be just another piece of hardware like a USB drive or an old-school disc drive, but they can hold hundreds of different crypto assets in high quantities, ensuring that they can’t be compromised.

Bitcoin ATMs and Cards

Another way that crypto appears in the physical world is with Bitcoin ATMs, which are popping up by the thousands in major cities around the globe.

Bitcoin ATMs offer a quick and easy way to turn BTC into stacks of green, although you can expect to pay some fees upfront to facilitate the transaction.

Alternatively, Bitcoin debit cards are becoming more popular, allowing users to quickly liquidate crypto at the point of sale and earn rewards like a standard bank card.

The Physical Future of Digital Currency

While we are eager to see crypto play a more prominent role in the physical world, let’s not forget that the primary mission of the movement is to create a faster, more accessible, and flexible system of money that everyone can use.

Crypto still has strong ties to the physical world, as seen in mining operations, hardware wallets, ATMs, and more. Physical Bitcoins may be a thing of the past, but we have only started to see a world of new possibilities open up before us.


How to Store Physical Bitcoins | For Dummies

Physical Bitcoins: What’s the Deal? | Currency

How Do Physical Bitcoins Work? | Coin Informant

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