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The Bank of Lithuania announced today, March 6th, that it plans to issue the world’s first digital collector coin to mark this year’s centenary of the Baltic state’s independence from the Soviet Union. To design and develop the underlying blockchain technology, the Bank of Lithuania will be organizing a “hackathon,” bringing together tech companies and IT professionals from around the world. The R&D event is set to take place in May of this year.
Final decisions on the mintage, denomination, price, the date of issue of the coin, and the mode of distribution will be made after the hackathon comes to a close. According to the central bank, more information on the hackathon will be available in early-April.
“It should be some kind of visualisation on a smartphone or computer, but exact details should be clearer after the hackathon,” central bank spokesman Rimantas Pilibaitis told AFP.
According to Marius Jurgilas of the Board of the Bank of Lithuania, the central bank has been making intensive preparations for the issuance of the digital coin: “Many challenges are upon us, yet we hope that, having overcome any hurdles that may come our way, we will make our plans a reality before the end of the year.”
“This would be the perfect way to mark the centenary of the restoration of Lithuania’s statehood, which we are celebrating this year, as well as show the world that it is a progressive and innovation-fostering country, always open to new ideas. Introducing a digital collector coin, Lithuania would be the first to break new ground in numismatics,” Jurgilas added.
Whatever eventual form the country’s collector coin takes, the Bank of Lithuania says it will be intended for collection and will not be issued with a view to be circulated. That said, the digital collector coins may be exchanged with the Bank of Lithuania at nominal value. This is in contrast to similar moves made by countries like Venezuela, who unveiled their cryptocurrency the “Petro” earlier this year. The Petro’s value is pegged to the price of a barrel of oil.
The issuance of the digital collector coin is yet another step towards implementing one of the Bank of Lithuania’s strategic directions in the field of innovation and financial technology. At the start of the year the central bank announced its intention to create a blockchain platform called LBChain.
LBChain aims to help Lithuanian and international companies garner knowledge on cryptocurrencies and carry out blockchain research, with plans to adapt and test blockchain-based services in the country’s financial sector.
The project is expected to be launched in 2019, accelerating the development of FinTech businesses and reinforcing the country’s eagerness to become a northern European hub for financial technology firms and blockchain-based start-ups.