A physical Bitcoin is a physical token that usually has an intricate design, as well as a public key and private key.
The idea of creating various physical forms of Bitcoin (BTC) has been around ever since the cryptocurrency’s creation. Whilst Bitcoin is thoroughly a product of the digital age, there has nonetheless been interest in practices such as printing out private keys and safeguarding them in the form of physical items, or finding ways to make digital assets feel more like traditional fiat currencies through a physical token. Having something physical in hand appeals to many people and this approach has driven an entire subset of the crypto community to develop the concept of physical Bitcoin. Many are also interested in the item’s potential as a collectible object.
There are many different ways to transform a virtual currency into a physical object: most frequently, by making a coin that replicates the familiar experience of cash.
A physical Bitcoin essentially has three aspects. The creation of a physical coin, which, however, in itself implies no virtual value. Then there is the appealing design of the front side of the coin — yet again, this is done only for cosmetic reasons. The design can be a simple logo or a more elaborate design concept. The third and final aspect is the posterior side of the coin. Coins that have a blank side are known as blanks. In this case, this means that the coin is not loaded with any Bitcoin or Bitcoin addresses.
You might well be asking yourself, how can this physical item potentially be transformed into Bitcoin? Two further components are needed for this, similar to the principle behind paper wallets. The first is the provision of a public key, which is hidden from plain sight. It should, however, still be accessible to the holder when needed. The holder can read the public key on the backside, in different ways, depending on how the physical Bitcoin is designed and configured. This allows him or her to spend the Bitcoin that is stored on the physical coin.
The second component is the safekeeping of a private key, which is typically done using a tamper-proof hologram in order to ensure maximum security.