Determined to keep physical currency relevant in an age of bitcoins and NFC-equipped phones, the Dutch are turning their coins into little high-tech toys. These are purportedly the world’s firstcoins with QR codes, which currently link to the national mint, but after June 22 will link to a “surprise.”
The coins will be available starting June 22, in both silver (5€ ) and gold (10€). Right now the code resolves as www.q5g.nl, which takes you to a Dutch Ministry of Finance page (in Dutch).
There’s no explanation of what the surprise might be — maybe a contest, maybe a historical link, perhaps a video tour of the place where Dutch money gets made.
The U.S. produces some pretty high-tech cash, but the bills are designed to thwart counterfeiters, not necessarily to edify collectors or engage smartphone users. As far as we know this is the first currency to be embedded with a link to the Internet.
They likely won’t be replacing Dutch euros anytime soon, however — only a limited number of coins were produced, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the national mint in Utrecht.