A couple months ago, Iceland became poised to be the first country to get a national cryptocurrency, after the creator of Auroracoin announced he’s giving every citizen of Iceland a handful of the digital gold to try and jumpstart an alt-economy free from the shackles of the government and central banks.
Technically, Iceland wasn't first to the idea. Auroracoin came on the heels of Mazacoin (center right), the official currency of the traditional Lakota Nation, a group of Sioux tribes in South Dakota. Not official virtual currency, mind you; official currency, period. It aims to help pull the tribes out of poverty, and pave the way for other countries to also abandon fiat currency, which the website describes as “outdated and dysfunctional.”
Both sovereign altcoins captured global attention, especially after Auroracoin's value skyrocketed to become the third most popular cryptocurrency in the world. Now, surprise surprise, a couple other so-called national altcoins have sprung up in their wake.
Spaincoin launched a few weeks ago and more or less follows the same model as Iceland's Auroracoin. It'll be partially premined and given out to each citizen of Spain through their national ID card. The developers behind Spaincoin (SPA) plan to wait one month to see if the digital currency amasses value before distributing it, and then give the coins away in stages so as to not flood the market.
Like its predecessors, the lofty goal is to wipe the economic slate clean and redistribute wealth throughout the people. At least, that’s what the developers state on the coin’s website and blog. It explains that SPA was created to "break free from the shackles" caused by government mismanagement and massive debt that's bruised the economy, which is so weak hundreds of thousands rallied in Madrid over the weekend to protest poverty and government-imposed austerity measures.
But there are plenty of skeptics that believe developers are just trying to capitalize on the socioeconomic climate to pull off a "pump and dump" scheme, trying to drive up the altcoin's value without any real intention of building an economic infrastructure.
That might be the case with PLNcoin, which launched last week claiming it's the "first Polish virtual currency," according to the site. However, PolishCoin (image above) sprung up mid-February—before Auroracoin—to promote the European country within the cryptocurrency world.
PLNcoin seems to be far less thought through than the other national digital currencies. Its creators released 2 million PLN this month to be mined, and are now hoping that it accumulates value. The site, which has an English and Polish version, doesn't mention much about how to get citizens to adopt the altcoin, or the political motives behind launching it. It states "we created PLNcoin just to show that a Pole can do it too."
Chances are we’ll see more and more national altcoins popping up figuring they can do it too. But it’ll take much more than a creative name and snazzy logo for this to mean anything other than the latest flash in the pan crypto-craze.
To that end, many curious eyes—including Motherboard's—will be trained on Iceland in the coming weeks and months, to see if people claim their Auroracoins and start trading them. That experiment starts at midnight, when $400 worth of the virtual coins will be airdropped to the citizens of Iceland.