Meet Auroracoin, Iceland's New Digital Cryptocurrency

Today in Iceland, every citizen of the country is entitled to claim 31.8 "Auroracoins," which are valued at just under $400 US.

Auroracoins are the invention of an anonymous person or collective organized under the pseudonym Baldur Friggjar Óðinsson, which would make a great name for a pet bear or perhaps a Maine Coon, by the way, if anyone's in the market. It's being offered as a salve for the collapsed value of Iceland's official currency, the króna, now under strict controls. The króna has been struggling ever since Iceland's financial collapse in 2008.

Like most well-intentioned efforts from the crypto-currency crowd, it's a little too early to guess whether this will actually have any measurable effect on the Icelandic economy. Icelanders have several options for claiming the coins: they can do it on Facebook, or by SMS text, either of which is matched with a national ID number Icelanders use called the kennitala.

It's pretty easy, in other words, to claim them. Which opens them to possible fraud or abuse, and there is some skepticism already on the Auroracoin reddit about the national ID numbers being a sufficient check against fraud.

But one bad sign: At the time we published this post, auroracoin.org was reporting that only about 1.3 percent of the coins thusly "airdropped" on the country overnight had been claimed. This does not exactly scream success. But let's keep watching.

[Photo, of a protester wearing a shirt that reads "Your Bank does not care about you" at a rally in 2008, via AP]

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