Philatelic? If you’re a millennial, there’s a good chance you’ve used Google to find out if there’s a word dedicated to collecting and studying postage stamps.
This same search paints a picture of declining pastimes, as younger generations are engrossed in their screens and constant stream of dopamine via TikTok, Instagram, Twitter and other popular social media platforms.
Two European postal services have sought to boost the popularity of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in recent years to stimulate the philanthropic sector. Cointelegraph met with Dutch PostNL and Austrian Post Office (Postag) at the Blockchain Exhibition in Amsterdam to successfully marry their collaborative efforts with NFTs.
PostAG Philatelic Head Patricia Lieberman and PostNL Product Manager Sacha van Hoorn are a friendly duo who have formed a working friendship that seems to be the backbone of the NFT-powered renaissance of postage stamp collecting in both countries.
PostAG first introduced the use of NFT postage stamps in 2019 with digital twin NFT issued real-world stamps originally developed on the Ethereum blockchain. Over the next two years, the Austrian Post Office continued its project with the Near Field Communication (NFC) chip functionality to ensure the functionality, authentication and security of postage stamps by 2021.
Lieberman described his initial idea and immediate inspiration three years ago, reflecting on the weak interest in demand.
In the year In 2019, we came up with the idea of having a physical stamp with NFT, it was mind-blowing and we were overwhelmed by all the feedback. And that’s why we said, OK, there’s a target group that’s interested in this new way of collecting.
Van Hoorn’s efforts to continue the innovation of PostNL’s postage stamp offerings have explored the use of augmented reality and artificial intelligence on stamps, but PostAG’s NFTs exploits have caught up with its Austrian counterparts. Recognizing that development takes a significant amount of time and resources, the collaboration was created:
“So we decided to talk to the Austrians as they are the first, and to get their experience and knowledge and how did you do it?”
The partnership has ended and a new version of the joint crypto stamp release has been announced. It is also the first issue of PostNL NFT stamps, with stamps issued in different colors of the Dutch and Austrian flags. The stamps also feature the national flowers of each country, with tulips and edelweiss on the reverse of the PostNL and PostAG stamps.
The physical stamps are made by the Austrian firm Varius Card, whose managing director Michael Dorner explained the latest security features in an interview with Cointelegraph. The fourth edition of Crypto Stamps features invisible UV rays and forensic security. NFC chips also provide authentication of any stamp.
Dorner adapted his recent conversations with older generation Austrians who were introduced to NFTs through PostAG’s Crypto Stamps. Some grandparents, unfamiliar with digital collections, have asked their grandchildren to help them capture digital twins of their real-world stamps.
“They called their grandchildren and said, ‘Do you know what an NFT is?’ And his grandson said, ‘Yeah, what do you have?’ They immediately sat down to dinner together, checked out the crypto stamps and the kids were like, ‘Grandpa, let’s check what color you are.’
All three individuals believe that NFT-linked postage stamps are leading to a Palestinian renaissance, with Dorner describing the shift as the next collector:
“Two generations of completely different backgrounds come together and talk. And you have this new community, this ‘Collectors 3.0’. Like young collectors, we all suddenly started getting interested in stamps again.
These positive feelings are supported by the popularity of each startup, Dorner and Lieberman, all previous NFT-combination collections are completely sold out.
While he didn’t give an approximate number, Dorner estimates that 150,000 to 250,000 postage stamps with NFT pairs have been sold as of 2019 — suggesting the initiative could be one of the most successful NFT projects in the world. The latest version of Crypto Stamps is built on the Polygon block.