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Author Topic: Physical Bitcoin - Alternatives to Casascius?  (Read 2723 times)
Qoheleth
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December 01, 2011, 08:30:48 PM
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The idea of being able to "spend" Bitcoins via passing around a redeemable note seems pretty neat to me, but the only such hat in that game right now seems to be Casascius, who have really daunting mint fees (65% for the "pocket change" size!)

I looked into Bitbills too, but, although their mint fees seem more reasonable, from what I hear they haven't actually been selling for several months now...

Does anyone know of any other such endeavors, or possibly what's going on with Bitbills?

If there is something that will make Bitcoin succeed, it is growth of utility - greater quantity and variety of goods and services offered for BTC. If there is something that will make Bitcoin fail, it is the culture of naive fools and conmen, the former convinced that BTC is a magic box that will turn them into millionaires, and the latter arriving by the busload to devour them.
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PrintCoins
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December 01, 2011, 08:45:00 PM
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Disclaimer: I am tooting my own horn.

I am currently producing Bitcoin cheques that are the same form factor as a dollar bill. It works on the same principle as the Casascius coins, with a hidden private key and an exposed public key. You buy these unfunded, and you can fund them with whatever amount you like and write the amount on the bill.

They are produced on 100% cotton archival quality 25lb paper, and can withstand the abuse of being in a physical wallet quite well.

http://printcoins.com

Bitmessage.org: BM-2cT3oFVj68gugBD5JFvP3qmoBHWXJQ6ZkT
BTC Addr:18AA1hq6DVHn5WuK1fQhr5CdkqeG5Mj2ZL <--did you like my post? Send some encouragement here.
Print bitcoin bills: http://print.printcoins.com/
Qoheleth
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December 01, 2011, 08:52:01 PM
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Paper money form-factor compatible with USD sounds good. But the unfunded approach seems kind of awkward to me, given that all that's guaranteed by the bill itself is that a wallet exists. You can see the public key, sure, but you then have to check the balance every time the bill is used, instead of being able to use it "like cash" (as with Bitbills/Casascius).

(Also, Bitbills still has you beat on mint prices below 20BTC, although you're ahead of Casascius in that respect.)

If there is something that will make Bitcoin succeed, it is growth of utility - greater quantity and variety of goods and services offered for BTC. If there is something that will make Bitcoin fail, it is the culture of naive fools and conmen, the former convinced that BTC is a magic box that will turn them into millionaires, and the latter arriving by the busload to devour them.
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December 01, 2011, 08:59:24 PM
 #4

Cheaper methods are possible.

For instance, using scratch-off vendors as suggested by Casascius.

I think the PIN mailer technology from Page-International would provide the ability for a company or community to issue their own paper, so no trust for an external party is necessary.  Cheap enough so that if the paper gets worn or the PIN mailer tab shows tampering the issued document can be redeemed without worrying about the replacement cost.
 - http://page-international.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=22&Itemid=41&lang=en

casascius
Mike Caldwell
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December 01, 2011, 09:55:57 PM
 #5

I've mentioned this before... I WOULD WELCOME COMPETITION... and would sell some of my supplies to anyone who wanted to make physical bitcoins.  (Not the holograms, but the coin blanks etc... and also assuming I felt they were qualified and had a decent enough standing with the community to be trusted.)  I would also be a willing participant in a two-party signature scheme (elliptic curve addition) to enable the creation of secure physical bitcoins where nobody has the full private key until the piece is ripped open.

The price of my coins is high strictly as a result of supply and demand.  I sell every 1BTC coin I make, and can only make so many and still devote appropriate attention to my payroll software business.

Companies claiming they got hacked and lost your coins sounds like fraud so perfect it could be called fashionable.  I never believe them.  If I ever experience the misfortune of a real intrusion, I declare I have been honest about the way I have managed the keys in Casascius Coins.  I maintain no ability to recover or reproduce the keys, not even under limitless duress or total intrusion.  Remember that trusting strangers with your coins without any recourse is, as a matter of principle, not a best practice.  Don't keep coins online. Use paper wallets instead.
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December 03, 2011, 03:46:12 AM
 #6

@ Casascius

How much markup would you expect to be able to slash from your coins if a couple competitors opened up shop? I bought some coins of yours from memorydealers and thought the markup was already pretty reasonable all things considered. Of course I've never minted my own coins, so I'm talking out of my ass.

Absolutely love your products though.
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December 03, 2011, 04:05:52 AM
 #7

@ Casascius

How much markup would you expect to be able to slash from your coins if a couple competitors opened up shop? I bought some coins of yours from memorydealers and thought the markup was already pretty reasonable all things considered. Of course I've never minted my own coins, so I'm talking out of my ass.

Absolutely love your products though.

If I thought the competition was good, I would consider stop making coins - or specialize in a few collectible coins - and perhaps provide some other support service for others who make coins and charging a small per-piece fee.

For example, I could print private keys for people, or print "half" private keys, so that if someone sells a coin that is based on two-party trust, I could be that second party.  I have that laser machine, which can be used for printing a 2nd private key onto the outside of somebody else's coins or other objects.  The laser machine also happens to be handy because it cuts those private key sheets into perfect circles.

Part of why I am the only game in town is I suppose I'm the only person who simultaneously has the interest, the ability, and the personal resources (funding) to pull off a line of coins.  The printing of private keys intimidates people as well, but it doesn't bother me, I know I can do it and get it 100% right.

Companies claiming they got hacked and lost your coins sounds like fraud so perfect it could be called fashionable.  I never believe them.  If I ever experience the misfortune of a real intrusion, I declare I have been honest about the way I have managed the keys in Casascius Coins.  I maintain no ability to recover or reproduce the keys, not even under limitless duress or total intrusion.  Remember that trusting strangers with your coins without any recourse is, as a matter of principle, not a best practice.  Don't keep coins online. Use paper wallets instead.
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December 03, 2011, 06:24:51 AM
 #8

It is getting hard to keep up with all the different threads discussing aspects of this same subject.

Our family was terrorized by Homeland Security.  Read all about it here:  http://www.jmwagner.com/ and http://www.burtw.com/  Any donations to help us recover from the $300,000 in legal fees and forced donations to the Federal Asset Forfeiture slush fund are greatly appreciated!
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December 03, 2011, 04:53:10 PM
 #9

It is getting hard to keep up with all the different threads discussing aspects of this same subject.

I think it is a bubbling of the realization that physical currency is important to a monetary system. In essence these are bitcoin backed instruments, the same way USD used to be backed by a certain amount of gold.

Dealing with the physical gold was troubling to the ordinary populous, in the same way that dealing with digital money is (though digital money is easier). Paper and coins backed by the thing of interest abstract the actual thing away effectively.

If this is the wild west, I expect that in the next year, you will see 10 currency dealers doing the same thing. Once stabilized I plan on offering my printing and order management technology as a software as a service so those with almost no technical skills could become a printer themselves.

Bitmessage.org: BM-2cT3oFVj68gugBD5JFvP3qmoBHWXJQ6ZkT
BTC Addr:18AA1hq6DVHn5WuK1fQhr5CdkqeG5Mj2ZL <--did you like my post? Send some encouragement here.
Print bitcoin bills: http://print.printcoins.com/
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December 06, 2011, 10:00:49 PM
 #10

Hi All,

I am new at this but why aren't more people selling physical BTC wallets (coins, paper, or otherwise) on ebay or other more visible exchanges? Is it that the market is still very small, a limited supply, or maybe the margins are too low for ebay fees?

And what's the deal with Bitbills? The website looks nice but they are not processing orders and don't seem to be checking their e-mail?

Thanks,

Pistachio
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December 06, 2011, 10:19:00 PM
 #11

Hi All,

I am new at this but why aren't more people selling physical BTC wallets (coins, paper, or otherwise) on ebay or other more visible exchanges? Is it that the market is still very small, a limited supply, or maybe the margins are too low for ebay fees?

And what's the deal with Bitbills? The website looks nice but they are not processing orders and don't seem to be checking their e-mail?

Thanks,

Pistachio
The main reason is trust.  You have to trust the person that creates any physical Bitcoin transport system because they have access to your private key during the time they make the item.  You have to trust that they do not keep a copy of the private key because if they keep a copy of it they can then take (steal) the Bitcoins out of the wallet or off the item at any time.

So only buy from a very trusted source like https://www.casascius.com or http://www.memorydealers.com/bieq.html

From what I have heard Bitbills is having some vendor issues and are currently unable to make more cards.

Our family was terrorized by Homeland Security.  Read all about it here:  http://www.jmwagner.com/ and http://www.burtw.com/  Any donations to help us recover from the $300,000 in legal fees and forced donations to the Federal Asset Forfeiture slush fund are greatly appreciated!
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December 06, 2011, 10:44:53 PM
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I am new at this but why aren't more people selling physical BTC wallets (coins, paper, or otherwise) on ebay or other more visible exchanges? Is it that the market is still very small, a limited supply, or maybe the margins are too low for ebay fees?

I plan on selling them on ebay soon, and based upon the prices I get, I will also be selling them on printcoins through paypal.

The main reason I haven't yet is I didn't want to do it before working out the issues of production and order management.

Bitmessage.org: BM-2cT3oFVj68gugBD5JFvP3qmoBHWXJQ6ZkT
BTC Addr:18AA1hq6DVHn5WuK1fQhr5CdkqeG5Mj2ZL <--did you like my post? Send some encouragement here.
Print bitcoin bills: http://print.printcoins.com/
boonies4u
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December 06, 2011, 11:08:24 PM
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I am new at this but why aren't more people selling physical BTC wallets (coins, paper, or otherwise) on ebay or other more visible exchanges? Is it that the market is still very small, a limited supply, or maybe the margins are too low for ebay fees?

I plan on selling them on ebay soon, and based upon the prices I get, I will also be selling them on printcoins through paypal.

The main reason I haven't yet is I didn't want to do it before working out the issues of production and order management.

Is importing private keys still a hassle for people? I went to http://printcoins.com/redeem and if MtGox and StrongCoin allow for simple imports, you would think that isn't the problem.

I guess until the default client allows/enables it, we won't know for sure.
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December 06, 2011, 11:21:02 PM
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I am new at this but why aren't more people selling physical BTC wallets (coins, paper, or otherwise) on ebay or other more visible exchanges? Is it that the market is still very small, a limited supply, or maybe the margins are too low for ebay fees?

I plan on selling them on ebay soon, and based upon the prices I get, I will also be selling them on printcoins through paypal.

The main reason I haven't yet is I didn't want to do it before working out the issues of production and order management.

Is importing private keys still a hassle for people? I went to http://printcoins.com/redeem and if MtGox and StrongCoin allow for simple imports, you would think that isn't the problem.

I guess until the default client allows/enables it, we won't know for sure.

I don't think this is a big deal, and I suspect that there will be many more import methods as time goes on.

Real issues are possible counterfeiting, merchant acceptance, and questionable need for physical bitcoins.

Real positives are immediate transactions, no need to do the geek dance of zapping eachother's phones, and easy transactions with people that really aren't that into bitcoin, but figure money is money.

Mostly, I think they are a cute way of promoting bitcoin and make fun collectables to store your loot in.

Bitmessage.org: BM-2cT3oFVj68gugBD5JFvP3qmoBHWXJQ6ZkT
BTC Addr:18AA1hq6DVHn5WuK1fQhr5CdkqeG5Mj2ZL <--did you like my post? Send some encouragement here.
Print bitcoin bills: http://print.printcoins.com/
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December 06, 2011, 11:33:25 PM
 #15

Mostly, I think they are a cute way of promoting bitcoin and make fun collectables to store your loot in.

I could
  • Buy a blank cheque
  • Copy QR codes for funding/balance
  • Store cheque someplace secure
  • Fund the balance over time
  • Collect the cheque when ready to import OR Fill it out and trade for Fiat, Gold, Goods, Services, etc.
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December 07, 2011, 01:20:34 AM
 #16

Well, the paper I use is archival, so it could handle a bit more than normal paper, and last a lot longer in a wallet (I have had a test one in my wallet for the last month). But really I don't see that as the use case.

If a user just wanted a secure location to store funds, they can just print out from bitaddress, and make a dozen copies. Put them in various secure locations, and fund them at will. This would be cheaper than buying them and more resistant against distaster destroying them (since they are at multiple locations).

Yep, I am arguing against using my bills for this purpose. They are best as a way to give bitcoins to someone and that someone to have a reasonable expectation that you don't have the private key to take them back. They really are for physical transactions.

Bitmessage.org: BM-2cT3oFVj68gugBD5JFvP3qmoBHWXJQ6ZkT
BTC Addr:18AA1hq6DVHn5WuK1fQhr5CdkqeG5Mj2ZL <--did you like my post? Send some encouragement here.
Print bitcoin bills: http://print.printcoins.com/
boonies4u
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December 07, 2011, 01:29:14 AM
 #17

Quote
Yep, I am arguing against using my bills for this purpose.
Roll Eyes
Quote
They are best as a way to give bitcoins to someone and that someone to have a reasonable expectation that you don't have the private key to take them back. They really are for physical transactions.

I was mostly pointing out that you don't have to send one payment to one of your blank cheques and then write/print the received amount onto it.

If you were saving up for a purchase, you could send funds to the cheque until it reaches the amount needed, while keeping it someplace safe. (not in your wallet)

And yes... If you merely wanted to save/hoard coins, you could/should print off several copies of the private key(s) and store them someplace safe/secure.
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December 07, 2011, 01:31:06 AM
 #18

Cheaper methods are possible.

For instance, using scratch-off vendors as suggested by Casascius.

It was Freemoney that first came up with the idea of scratch off cards in post https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=9641.msg138740#msg138740. I posted a suggestion about this again here: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=50126.0. I've been developing a business based on this.

Any significantly advanced cryptocurrency is indistinguishable from Ponzi Tulips.
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December 07, 2011, 01:41:57 AM
 #19

Cheaper methods are possible.

For instance, using scratch-off vendors as suggested by Casascius.

It was Freemoney that first came up with the idea of scratch off cards in post https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=9641.msg138740#msg138740. I posted a suggestion about this again here: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=50126.0. I've been developing a business based on this.

You could come out with real bitcoin scratch-off games while you are at it. Someone pays 1 btc for a scratch-off that contains a private key with anywhere from 0-X bitcoins on it. I'm pretty sure that this idea has been discussed in the gambling section before, though.
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December 07, 2011, 01:49:25 AM
 #20

Cheaper methods are possible.

For instance, using scratch-off vendors as suggested by Casascius.

It was Freemoney that first came up with the idea of scratch off cards in post https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=9641.msg138740#msg138740. I posted a suggestion about this again here: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=50126.0. I've been developing a business based on this.

You could come out with real bitcoin scratch-off games while you are at it. Someone pays 1 btc for a scratch-off that contains a private key with anywhere from 0-X bitcoins on it. I'm pretty sure that this idea has been discussed in the gambling section before, though.

It doesn't seem to have been discussed before other than the post I had that nobody responded to. I'm just waiting for apps that will allow private key redemption. The mtgox android app is still buggy and doesn't recognize some base58 keys, though the website seems fine. When there are more apps for redeeming Bitcoin, I will go live with my scratch off games.

Any significantly advanced cryptocurrency is indistinguishable from Ponzi Tulips.
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