Startup News & Analysis

The bank of blockchain: Startup to print crypto banknotes for world first digital national currency

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien /

Crypto banknotes

Tangem's cryptocurrency bank notes. Source: Supplied.

Crypto-wallet startup Tangem is set to provide banknotes for the first ever decentralised national currency, in the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

The sovereign (SOV) – a purely digital currency – will join the US dollar as the second official legal currency of the Pacific island nation, which is an associated state of the US.

It follows the introduction of legislation allowing for currency based on blockchain to be legal tender. At the time, Marshall Islands president Hilda Heine called the change “a historic moment for our people”.

In a statement, she said the nation’s ability to issue and use their own currency is “another step of manifesting our national liberty”.

The blockchain platform for the cryptocurrency is backed by Israeli startup Neema.

However, the Marshall Islands government has mandated Swiss startup Tangem to issue smart banknotes of the new blockchain-based currency, allowing islanders to access their assets without the need for an internet connection.

crypto banknotes

The Marshall Islands. Source: Unsplash.

The physical banknotes contain a secure blockchain-enabled microprocessor, and chip, and essentially work in the same way as fiat cash.

A statement from Tangem said the notes “will enable the off-chain physical circulation of the SOV among all SOV holders and will not impose the technical infrastructure burden on the Marshall Islands”.

Headquartered in Switzerland, Tangem provides smart card wallets for cryptocurrencies, stable coins, ICO tokens and other digital assets, and specialises in making cryptocurrencies mimic cash.

It has offices globally, including in Singapore, where it released bitcoin banknotes in March last year.

Earlier this month, the startup raised US$15 million in funding from Japanese digital asset investment firm SBI Crypto Investments, to help accelerate deployment of the startup’s technology.

“The world is moving towards the widespread adoption of digital currencies, and we are excited to support the birth of the new global digital economy,” Tangem co-founder Andrey Kurennykh said in a statement.

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Stephanie Palmer-Derrien

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien is the editor at StartupSmart. You can contact her at [email protected].