Cyber currency Bitcoin is now available in physical form – as deluxe metal coins.
The digital money had until recently only been an electronic balance of numbers.
But TGBEX Limited now claims to be the world’s only producer of physical Bitcoin tokens and is now launching them in the UK.
Co-Founder Adrian Forbes said: ‘We are excited to launch in the UK and hope to organise a number of launch parties and promotional events in various cities around the UK over the coming months.
‘We have seen interest in the coins from people aged 18 to people over 60 and have been overwhelmed by the response and interest so far, so hope to build on this.’
TGBEX produce limited edition, physical bitcoins that are individually numbered and come with a Certificate of Authenticity with a QR code, corresponding to the public address applied to the back, enabling owners to ‘verify’ the bitcoin balance, plus an ‘About Your Bitcoin’ booklet explaining how to check and use the physical bitcoins.
Co-Founder John Middleton said: ‘Our coins are produced by generating private keys offline and by engraving the keys onto the coins, which are then secured, loaded with bitcoin and all records of private keys destroyed.
‘Security of the bitcoin keys is paramount to our customers, so each coin is engraved via a CAM process to reduce the likelihood of human error and each coin is checked and signed off on the certificate and order form. The whole process is overseen and we have procedures in place to prevent the theft, or loss of private keys.’
John said TGBEX is ‘the safest and easiest way to invest in bitcoin’.
‘For most people, the idea of multi-factor authentication and having to remember, or store extra passwords is off-putting and so is the idea of leaving bitcoins in the ownership of an exchange,’ he added.
‘We believe we are the easiest way for most people to buy bitcoins and as long as the coin is kept safe, the bitcoins remain in cold storage, so it is a safer option for more than 90% of people.’
TGBEX coins come in denominations of 0.5BTC, 1BTC, 2BTC and 5BTC, made from brass alloys with various finishes, together with a branded velvet box. 10BTC and 20BTC coins are made from solid silver (hallmarked by the Birmingham Assay office) and come in a handmade box, with a plaque insert reading “GENESIS EDITION” (also imprinted on the front of each coin).
The firm engrave public and private keys onto the obverse of the coins, with the private key covered by a holographic security sticker in an undisclosed location, but they can be contacted via their website or found on facebook, twitter and linkedin.
Based in the Isle of Man, TGBEX has had to deal with a complex-web of legal and compliance issues in making the coins.
‘I had some previous experience putting together legal, compliance, AML/KYC, payments, fiduciary and custody solutions, which came in useful,’ said Adrian, who was previously Citibank’s Head of Operations for Private Equity Services, covering Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
‘We think physical bitcoins have the potential to increase adoption, but they need to be taken seriously and not just produced in a bedroom, or garage. John is a huge fellow crypto-enthusiast and his experience of software development and systems, as well holding senior posts in the Isle of Man financial sector was also instrumental in being able to create the procedures and systems necessary.
‘The Isle of Man is an ideal location for what are complex problems, the Government, public response and local professional partners have all been a huge help in launching TGBEX over the past few months. The ability to have a chat (and a coffee!) with the data protection department, or meet the FSC at a week’s notice, just wouldn’t be possible anywhere else.
‘We hope to use our experience, together with assistance from our partners to launch across the world, but need to perform an analysis of what local regulations apply in each country we hope to sell in first, so are focussed on launching in the UK for the time being.’