For a while now there have been so-called “physical bitcoin” on the market: what are they?
Firstly, they are not bitcoin.
In fact, bitcoin are digital currencies that only exist in digital form. Indeed, from a strictly technical point of view, bitcoin are nothing more than information stored on the blockchain, i.e. the file that is stored in tens of thousands of identical copies within the nodes of the P2P Bitcoin network.
Therefore, no bitcoin exists, and cannot exist, that has mass, i.e. made up of physical matter. The closest thing that could exist would be the hardware of the machines on which the nodes run, but even then there is no physical bitcoin.
Theoretically, there could be bitcoin ‘banknotes’, but in reality, they are nothing more than paper wallets.
By ‘physical bitcoin’ it is meant something completely different.
Since bitcoin is a currency, and since historically coins have always consisted of small metal discs on which a value was stamped, someone has invented a so-called ‘commemorative coin’ which instead of its value it features the Bitcoin logo.
In reality, however, even the definition of a ‘commemorative coin’ can be misleading, as these are usually just ordinary metal discs decorated with the Bitcoin symbol.
In other words, although bitcoin is often referred to as ‘digital gold’, such commemorative coins are not made of gold at all. Suffice it to say that, weighing several dozen grams, they often cost around $10.
A gram of gold is worth more than $50, so for example a solid gold disc weighing 40 grams would have a minimum value of more than $2,000.
However, these commemorative coins are not only not made of solid gold, but also of other precious metals such as silver. They are discs of ordinary cheap metal, sometimes coated with a very thin gold patina.
The market value of physical bitcoin
In other words, the so-called physical bitcoin have very little market value. They are only commemorative items, or souvenirs, or in very rare cases collector’s items. The only advantage is that they cost very little.
So they have practically nothing to do with real bitcoin, except for the fact that they are stamped with the ฿ symbol.
However, they still have a large market, either because they are a kind of souvenir, or because they can be curious and inexpensive gifts, or because many bitcoiners are proud of their status and want to show it in some way, for example by displaying one of these commemorative coins as a pendant on their keychain.