December 4, 2022

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This is how the world's little-known Norwegian monetary history went in less than a year

This is how the world’s little-known Norwegian monetary history went in less than a year

The only countries in the world that did not participate in the SpareBank 1 crypto project are Eritrea, Somaliland and North Korea.

But North Korea is adept at hiding its tracks, joking Morten Söberg.

He is a public contact at SpareBank 1 and has spent the past year on what is the first NFT project in the Norwegian financial industry.

NFT stands for “Non-Fungible Token” and is a unique digital certificate of ownership that is held on the blockchain. It is often associated with a digital object such as a photo or video, and ownership of that object.

PERMAFROST: Morten Søberg at SpareBank 1 is on his way to Mine 3 in Svalbard to finish his crypto project. Photo: Karen Anna Clip/TV2

The project also led to a completely unique collaboration outside the borders of Norway.

This is the first international collaboration between cryptofinance and a traditional bank to create such an NFT project, and we have received tremendous international interest, says Kaupang crypto CEO Nikolai Gobel.

In addition to bringing a large Norwegian bank to the world of cryptocurrency, they published the hitherto unknown and completely unique Norwegian monetary history to the entire world.

It goes for 80,000 kroner

In the 20th century, American, British, Soviet, Swedish and Norwegian mining companies printed their own money for miners in Svalbard. Through the work that they did, the miners gained access to the money that was printed in the Arctic archipelago.

Expressions like “mining” and “proof of work” are traditionally associated with mining and work, but today they are widely used in relation to cryptocurrencies. So, according to Søberg, it was only natural that Svalbard Money and blockchain technology combine together.

— There are obvious linguistic similarities between the Svalbard money made by miners and publishers, and cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ether, says Soberg.

Together with Kaupang Krypto and a designer from Haltenbanken, SpareBank has made 1 identical coins and notes, which began appearing as digital holdings on the Etherum blockchain last year.

Design: Ørjan Ingvaldsen / Haltenbanken. 3D design: Ole C. Loftesnes.

Through the project’s website, people learned about the history of money, but also had the opportunity to create their own NFTs, and with them their unique digital copy of a real seat or coin from Svalbard.

Some have already sold for nearly 80,000 kroner.

Goebbel says: We have received several hundred users and several hundred thousand visitors.

The Beginning: Nikolai Gobel of Kaupang Krypto thinks this is just the beginning of how the technology behind NFT has been used in a few years.  Photo: Karen Anna Clip/TV2

The Beginning: Nikolai Gobel of Kaupang Krypto thinks this is just the beginning of how the technology behind NFT has been used in a few years. Photo: Karen Anna Clip/TV2

New Crypto Banks

But the project is not only about public education and history. By making Svalbard funds available in the form of NFTs on the blockchain, the bank has also gained knowledge that may soon become invaluable.

The goal was to contribute to public education, but also gain us more knowledge about this new technology and digital ownership, and then be able to use that vision strategically through new job opportunities and financial services, says Soberg.

Russian interest: The Russian Consul General in Barentsburg, Sergey Goshin, flew by helicopter to Longyearbyen to participate in the archiving of the project.  Photo: Karen Anna Clip/TV2

Russian interest: The Russian Consul General in Barentsburg, Sergey Goshin, flew by helicopter to Longyearbyen to participate in the archiving of the project. Photo: Karen Anna Clip/TV2

He points to Switzerland, which already last year had a whole set of legislation regulating everything related to blockchain technology and cryptocurrency.

We are witnessing the emergence of entirely new banks and funds offering new services within this “universe”. It’s very promising, exciting and certainly something we should be curious about, says Soberg.

Søberg is supported by senior researcher Svein Ølnes at Vestlandsforsking. It specifically looks at how cryptocurrency and blockchain technology can be used in the public sector. It is believed that the banks in Norway are already behind.

It is up to the banks on their suitability in the future. Nowadays, Norwegian banks fear cryptocurrency more than banks in other countries. Olens says they are too concerned about believing the error.

CRYPTO Researcher: Senior Researcher Svein Ølnes is looking specifically at how cryptocurrency and Bitcoin will be used in the public sector in the future.  Photo: Isac Skjevik Kvello / TV 2

CRYPTO Researcher: Senior Researcher Svein Ølnes is looking specifically at how cryptocurrency and Bitcoin will be used in the public sector in the future. Photo: Isac Skjevik Kvello / TV 2

He believes that Norwegian banks should be more aggressive and understand that cryptocurrency is about to survive. Because in not many years, it will be used for fairly everyday things, says Olens.

This is how it can become a part of every day

– Tickets for festivals, concerts or football matches are clear. Olens says the NFT was created for this type of document.

He believes that it has only been two years since NFT has used services like this, and that then it will be better than the solutions we have today.

– For example, there is greater security against counterfeiting, in addition, it will be possible to do without intermediaries. Today, Olnes says, a large number of people pay a fee to handle tickets.

If you look more at the orb, the NFT can be used as evidence of future ownership. If you buy a car, the purchase contract can be NFT, and one of them will issue approval from the third party, which in this case will be the Public Roads Administration.

Million Art: This NFT, Picture of Stone, sold for nearly $2 million last year.  Photo: Isac Skjevik Kvello / TV 2

Million Art: This NFT, Picture of Stone, sold for nearly $2 million last year. Photo: Isac Skjevik Kvello / TV 2

– But that’s still quite a bit far away. First, the user experience needs to be better, Olens says.

Almost like myke verd

Søberg also envisions that NFT may at some point in the future be a form of equity, which could be used in connection with loans, for example.

Many Norwegians who own cryptocurrency are concerned about this phenomenon, and the financial sector must deal with it. But this should be done in coordination with law and order and clear tax matters, says Soberg.

He thinks the entire Norwegian financial sector is walking around with a dog and a white stick and trying to get a feel for them.

But while the financial sector is feeling blind, Søberg is in Svalbard to complete the first NFT project for a Norwegian bank.

The most distinctive NFT coin in the group is the Falsen coin, after Christian Magnus Falsen and Mount Falsenslottet in Spitsbergen. Design: Ørjan Ingvaldsen / Haltenbanken. 3D design: Ole C. Loftesnes.

At the beginning of February, 10 months after the start of the project, the opportunity to create new digital holdings with Svalbard money was closed.

551 sets and 111 coins were produced. While real Svalbard money goes to auctions for between 50,000 and 100,000 kroner, one of Svalbard’s digital money sold for 80,000 kroner.

– It has been a triumphant run all over the world, with visits and users from 193 countries.

Store in permafrost

On Monday, the SpareBank 1 project will come to an end. Even if the history of anonymous money is forgotten again, or the prediction about cryptocurrency turns out to be unfulfilled, it will always be present in a mine in Svalbard.

– It is said in Latin that what is not in the archives, is not in the world, says Soberg in the closing speech, underground in the permafrost of a closed mine at Longyearbyen.

Good luck to the Global Arctic Archive. On physical film reels inside a container in the mine, project owners completely archive all project-specific data.

Synopsis: Morten Søberg puts all the data and information about the first Norwegian NFT project of a Norwegian bank, which has now been stored for a thousand years on a physical film roll in a mine in Svalbard.  Photo: Karen Anna Clip/TV2

Synopsis: Morten Søberg puts all the data and information about the first Norwegian NFT project of a Norwegian bank, which has now been stored for a thousand years on a physical film roll in a mine in Svalbard. Photo: Karen Anna Clip/TV2

If everything goes according to plan, it will be underground in permafrost along with the first maps from Mexico, manuscripts from the Vatican and football history to Brazil for several hundreds, if not thousands of years.

– Now this will remain forever, in an entire marginal part of the world, in a demilitarized zone. It’s a new chapter in monetary history, and now it will also be secured for future generations as it begins, says Soberg.

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