Noteworthy’s Crypto-Backed Banknotes: Driving Cryptocurrency Adoption for Mainstream Users
Peter S. Brown, Senior Vice President, Sales at Noteworthy
From the ashes of the Global Financial Crisis in 2008, the world learned that our institutions and banks are far more vulnerable than we had previously believed, and thus Bitcoin and all of its descendants were born. For all of the urgent needs and popular demand for a new financial system, the benefits of blockchain and cryptocurrencies will remain just a promise until their adoption can be driven deep into the mainstream of the world economy. A closer examination of what has slowed cryptocurrency adoption reveals a landscape with still many challenges to overcome if it is to extend its appeal beyond tech-enthusiasts and speculators. A few of these barriers include:
- Trust: Vast sums of cryptocurrencies remain stranded in wallets of the deceased and those who have lost credentials. Billions more have been lost to hacking, phishing, spoofing, and other schemes. A user may have a sound strategy for managing passwords today, but this can’t ensure that a password won’t be mishandled following a family death. With the risks associated with crypto self-custody being completely different from traditional assets, users in the mainstream will remain hesitant before investing.
- User experience: Public wallet addresses, private keys, two-factor authentication, exchanges, full-custody wallets, non-custodial wallets, seed phrases, gas fees, mining, sidechains. For the uninitiated, this is a minefield of confusing jargon that will shake the enthusiasm of any new user to store their hard-earned money in crypto. Most of us have had the experience of attempting to explain how Bitcoin works to our parents or grandparents, only to conclude that cryptocurrency’s confusing mechanisms to ensure its security are simply too much new technology for most people to easily understand.
- High transaction fees: Proof-of-work coins are the workhorse of the crypto industry. Taken together, they represent a 66% dominance of the crypto market cap with Bitcoin accounting for 44% overall, as of this writing. However, average transaction costs for Bitcoin regularly reach over $200 which severely limits its circulation and usability. It is clear that getting Bitcoin and all of its sibling proof-of-work currencies into the mainstream will require that transaction fees can become effectively zero in most circumstances.
There will never be a single, silver-bullet solution to solve the mass-adoption puzzle for crypto currencies. However, Noteworthy contends that the centuries-old banknote industry holds the key to unlocking a significant new wave of end user adoption. Banknotes hold several inherent advantages for crypto, and we strongly believe it will accelerate adoption into many different sectors.
Advantages of a Noteworthy cryptocurrency banknote:
- Tangibility: A Noteworthy banknote is physical and denominated in the cryptocurrency it holds — just like any fiat currency across the globe. This is the simplest and most accessible paradigm for understanding and exchanging money and will dramatically reduce the perceived risks and overall confusion associated with adopting crypto.
- Self-custody: If you hold it, you own all aspects of its value, independent of the policies of exchanges, banks, or governments — just like with any fiat currency or precious metal. Noteworthy banknotes remove the remaining barriers to a truly permissionless form of crypto.
- Trust and Fungibility: Noteworthy banknotes are designed by our Chief Design Officer, Manuela Pfrunder who also designed the 9th Series Swiss Franc currently in circulation. Manuela’s designs integrate literally dozens of security features and printing processes to provide the world’s most advanced anti-counterfeit banknotes available today, and that unmistakable ‘feel’ that authentic currency has when held in the hand. This integrated design provides the baseline trust regime that is necessary so that a note may be physically exchanged for value in a secondary, off-ledger market for zero fees and without the intervention of any exchange, bank, or government. This is critical to bringing many more people into the crypto world who otherwise won’t have access to a digital wallet infrastructure.
- Real-time confirmation of funds: Our crypto banknotes possess a QR code so that any user may easily scan a note to confirm that funds are indeed allocated on the blockchain to its corresponding address. Noteworthy offers a smartphone app to authenticate funds associated with the wallet’s public address in conjunction with a chip embedded in the note as an additional security feature.
- Simple redemption into fiat currencies: Users may easily redeem their Noteworthy notes by exposing the private key hidden underneath the security foil for easy deposit into a digital wallet. After redemption, the note no longer holds crypto but remains a beautifully-designed souvenir.
- Intergenerational store of value: Just as with cash or precious metals, possession equals absolute ownership with Noteworthy banknotes. Significant infrastructure already exists for secure storage of valuables today whether that be in homes, banks, businesses, or institutions. In the event of a family death, control of these assets will be in the hands of the executor or trustee and not tied up in the changing landscape of crypto regulations or, worse, lost forever. A cryptocurrency banknote represents actual value in your hands as with other physical assets, unencumbered by third parties. Unlike other cold storage solutions and paper wallets, the simplicity and durability of Noteworthy-designed cryptocurrency banknotes will be able to stand the test of time amid a rapidly evolving technological landscape.
Noteworthy vs Today’s Wallet Solutions
With an eye on being the most recognizable, easiest way to own cryptocurrency, Noteworthy fills an important void in the spectrum of crypto custody solutions on the market today.
Cold storage solutions have developed effective multi-layer security measures to defend against theft in a digital world. The novel procedures that make these devices secure is precisely what makes it confusing for many in practice. Crypto banknotes deliver a custody solution that is every bit as safe as a leading cold storage solution, but is more easily understood by the non-tech savvy, which will open up a new wave of crypto mass adoption and potential use cases. People ask what happens if a user loses a Noteworthy banknote? The same thing that happens if you lose possession of your fiat cash, a stock certificate, or your Ledger seed phrase. You lose the asset. People intuitively understand how to keep their tangible valuables safe, and most strongly prefer a physical possession-based model of ownership to a digital one with the aforementioned challenges.
What the crypto world does not have today is an effective store of value for the masses that can also be physically exchanged for value — without fees — on the secondary market, just like cash or precious metals. Noteworthy believes this is an important breakthrough and turning point in the evolution of cryptocurrencies that will accelerate adoption, in particular because the world is headed into uncharted economic waters.
A New Way to Hedge Inflation with Cryptocurrency
The headlines surrounding high inflation have already occupied the mainstream press as opinion leaders ranging from central bank chiefs to investment gurus are sounding the alarm. United States government debt stands at a staggering $28T with worldwide debt on the verge of crossing the $300T threshold, far exceeding the $173T at the time of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. Excessive levels of debt have historically been one of the main contributors to high inflation as governments become forced to print money to pay their obligations.
Additionally, as the world painfully experienced in the 2008 GFC, high debt levels within an economy can leave institutions vulnerable to bankruptcies that can systematically impact both the life savings of hard-working families and the financial system itself. This important lesson highlights perhaps the most critical feature that cryptocurrencies bring to its users: self-custody and personal control of your assets. That is, maintaining a percent of assets outside the financial system provides vital stability to a family’s financial resources in times of uncertainty, or in the case of unexpected events. Precious metals have traditionally fulfilled this role of anchoring personal wealth with hard assets. While gold will almost certainly maintain its fungibility in any crisis, in recent years its prices have fallen far short of being an effective inflation hedge. For these reasons, investors are increasingly turning to the crypto market to fill this void, but the technical complexity and long-term risks associated with holding a purely digital asset across generations directly limits how broadly this asset class can reach.
In an age of uncertainty, Noteworthy and this new concept of crypto banknotes stand at the crossroads of inflation protection, physical fungibility, and simple self-custody so that investors of all backgrounds can easily participate in the crypto revolution.
Experienced Team Brings Crypto-Backed Banknotes to the Masses
The banknote industry can only exist as long as it maintains a deep level of trust between its central bank customers, the world’s commercial banks, and every individual across the global economy that handles its notes every day. Continuously improving its technology and processes so that its central bank customers can always stay far ahead of cash counterfeit schemes is the lifeblood of this industry. For this reason, key parts of the banknote industry’s technology, such as 8000dpi printing, exotic paper and plastic substrates, customized precision printing presses, intaglio inks, chips and antennas, etc. remain inaccessible and off-limits to virtually any new business that simply wants secure printing services. Only known and trusted entities receive the privilege to access the most advanced technologies of this arcane industry.
By virtue of the pedigree of its executive staff and board of directors, Noteworthy uniquely stands in position to take advantage of this deeply conservative industry to deliver banknotes to the cryptocurrency market.
Larry Felix, Co-Founder and CEO, is the former director of the Bureau of Engraving for the US Federal Government and led the design of the US $100 currently in circulation.
Peter Vessenes, Co-Founder, is the Founding Chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation, and currently serves as Principal of Capital 6.
Manuela Pfrunder, Chief Design Officer, is the designer of the 9th Series of the Swiss Franc currently in circulation.
Hans Olsen, EVP & COO, spent decades as a senior executive in the semiconductor and other related technology industries.
Philippe Barreau, Board Member, is the Chairman of the Secure Identity Alliance and a veteran of the banknote industry over the past several decades.
Edmund Moy, Advisor to Noteworthy, served as the 38th Director of the US Mint.