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Crypto stamps – Austria shows the way

Cryptocurrencies have already existed for over a decade. In contrast, the concept of the crypto stamp is still comparatively young. We outline the history of the digital stamp in Austria, explain advantages and disadvantages and show where you can buy the postal stamps

The pioneer in crypto stamps is the Austrian Post (ÖP). Interested parties could purchase the so-called Crypto stamp 1.0 at a purchase price of 6.90 euros from June 11, 2019. This price corresponded to the face value. Size and texture are reminiscent of a check card.

Crypto stamp 1.0 with limited edition

The world’s first crypto stamp from Austria has a limited edition of 150,000 pieces and consists of two parts. The left half shows a colorful unicorn as a motif and can be used for franking mail (see photos). The right-hand side, on the other hand, contains scratch-off areas under which codes are hidden. These refer to the digital twin of the physical stamp, which is stored in the Ethereum blockchain.

Crypto stamp 2.0 with animal motifs

On June 25, 2020, the ÖP released the crypto stamp 2.0, but compared to its predecessor, there were some modifications. For example, the stamp now features one of four animal motifs, namely:

  • Doge
  • Honey badger
  • Llama
  • Panda

At the same time, the circulation increased by 60 percent to 240,000 pieces. However, in the second edition of the Crypto stamp, all variants have the same frequency. The issue price rose slightly to 7 euros. Unlike its predecessor, the Crypto stamp 2.0 is made of paper. Here, the front can be used as a classic postal stamp. The code for the digital twin stored in the Ethereum blockchain is located under a label on the back.

Variant: The golden unicorn

Actually, this stamp is just a variant of the Crypto stamp 2.0, but it is much more exclusive not only because it is limited to 999 pieces. The stamp also surprises with a nominal value of 500 euros and contains a one gram mini gold bar. In addition, a unique piece exists with a 20-gram gold bar.

Portrait Stefan Nemeth, Austrian Post

Thanks to the blockchain, the transaction of crypto stamps can be easily and inexpensively processed between the owners.

Stefan Nemeth, Head of Product Management and E-Business Branches at Austrian Post

Crypto stamp 3.0 with golden whale

On June 21, 2021, ÖP finally launched the Crypto stamp 3.0. The digital postage stamp features a golden whale against a blue background. The issue price this time is €9.90 and the circulation is 100,000. Numerous new security elements have been integrated to prevent counterfeiting. These include an NFC chip that can be used to verify the authenticity of the postage stamp. Stefan Nemeth, Head of Product Management and E-Business Branches at ÖP, points to further optimizations: “We have made major improvements to the blockchain technology that serves as the basis for the Crypto stamp. As a result, the transaction of Crypto stamps can be handled easily and cost-effectively between owners* in the future.” This statement likely refers to the choice of the sidechain xDai for the Crypto stamp 3.0, among other things.

The UN crypto stamp

But there are also crypto stamps outside of Austria. The first UN crypto stamp, for example, appeared on November 24, 2020. The postal stamp always shows one of the main buildings of the United Nations in Geneva, New York and Vienna. The three miniature sheets each contain a postage stamp worth $7.75, 8.00 Swiss francs or 7.00 euros. To activate the digital stamp on the Ethereum blockchain, you need to enter a code located under a scratch field on the physical stamp. Since each one is linked to one of seventeen UN Sustainable Development Goals, you can collect a total of 51 different versions.

Liechtenstein: Stamp 4.0

Liechtenstein’s first blockchain stamp was released on September 6, 2021. The postage stamp is adorned with the abstract motif “Weitblick”. The stamp is available from a price of CHF 5.20. To access the digital twin in the blockchain, an Android app and a compatible terminal device are currently still required. With this, you have to scan the SQR code embedded in the stamp. This allows the stamp 4.0 to be digitally verified and stored in the blockchain. Behind each stamp is one of four virtual game characters, namely a prince, a princess, a knight or a castle. You can solve a puzzle for each game character and enter your name in a digital leaderboard. A special edition limited to 3,200 copies with hologram foil sold out in no time.

Croatia: van, train, ship and plane

The supply of crypto postage stamps is still relatively small. Beyond the outlined issuers, the Croatian Post is still primarily active, cooperating with national crypto companies for this purpose. Here, the first crypto stamp appeared on September 9, 2020. The stamp, which is limited to 100,000 pieces, depicts a van, train, ship, plane or drone. The other design is clearly based on the Austrian Crypto stamp. The successor issued this year shows a letter carrier on various means of transport. However, the total circulation here is only 30,000.

Switzerland could get in on crypto stamps

Switzerland could be one of the next countries to jump on the crypto-stamp bandwagon. In any case, the comment of a Swiss Post spokesperson in the Handels Zeitung sounds quite appreciative: “The Austrian Post has shown that it can combine the traditional with new technology.” However, nothing is known yet about corresponding plans of Deutsche Post.

How and where do I buy crypto stamps?

I'm in America or England - where can I buy crypto stamps? If you want to buy crypto stamps, it is best to buy them from the issuing office. This is because here you often only pay the respective face value - with a minimal surcharge if necessary. The UN crypto stamp, for example, is available at At Austrian Post, direct purchase is possible in branches or philatelic stores at the collector's service or on the website. Payment with cryptocurrency is also possible in principle via Onchain. However, Austrian digital stamps in particular sold out quickly here. In the case of the strictly limited golden unicorn, for example, this only took a few minutes. Nevertheless, you don't have to do without your copy. Not only at stamp dealers, but also on platforms like eBay, you can find sales offers all the time. If you buy here, however, you should inform yourself about the current price level beforehand. Because some dubious traders demand moon prices.

The first crypto stamp 1.0

The left side of the Crypto Stamp 1.0 is practically identical in each case. However, the digital twin in the blockchain is randomly assigned one of five color tones. The frequency of each color varies as follows:
  • Red / 1.500 pieces
  • Yellow / 10.000 pieces
  • Blue / 20.000 pieces
  • Green / 40.000 pieces
  • Black / 78.500 pieces

Advantages of crypto stamps

With Cryto stamps & Co, the world of philately, often considered somewhat dusty, has finally arrived in the technologized present. The first digital stamps have generated a certain amount of media hype and have probably ensured that (again) more people are interested in the hobby of stamp collecting. Of course, collectors benefit from this because they have more exchange partners and can get hold of new types of virtual collectibles. But also the issuing agencies can be happy. They get more PR and usually generate additional sales. Crypto stamps & co can also play a certain role in diversifying assets. In addition, issuing entities are increasingly taking advantage of the wide range of technological possibilities and launching games or information about the digital part. This gives buyers a special added value.

High profits through resale

Some buyers of digital stamps, as well as professional resellers, have been able to make attractive profits through resale. Resellers with the right timing are said to have achieved prices of up to 10,000 euros for the rare red Crypto stamp 1.0, for example. Given an original purchase price of just under seven euros, that is a very good deal. At the same time, the purchase was practically risk-free when it was issued. After all, the purchase price corresponded to the face value for which buyers could send postal items.

Disadvantages of the digital stamp

Especially shortly after the first Crypto Stamp 1.0 sold out, prices exploded. There were even outright speculative bubbles. One example of this is an eBay sale at where a seller demanded 1 million euros for the complete set. Even then, the president of the Federation of Austrian Philatelic Societies, Helmut Kogler, warned: “Unfortunately, there are a few black sheep in our field who try to make a quick buck in the short term.” Those who paid moon prices back then are likely to be annoyed today. In some cases, issuers fuel speculation by making variants scarcer through artificial rarity in addition to the original limitation. This is the case with the red Crypto stamp 1.0, for example. In addition, collectors need a certain amount of technical equipment or know-how. For example, an Android device with a suitable app is currently still required to use stamp 4.0.

FAQ – Frequently asked questions

What are the meanings of the motifs of the Crypto stamps?

The motifs of the crypto stamps are deliberately chosen. For example, the unicorn is the iconic symbol of the Ethereum blockchain used for crypto stamps. On the other hand, people who have large amounts of crypto assets are considered whales. Doge, honey badger, llama and panda also have special meanings in the crypto scene.

Does the Crypto stamp 3.0 use Near Field Communication?

Yes. The Crypto stamp 3.0 contains an NFC chip for the first time. NFC stands for Near Field Communication. The technology is used for contactless data exchange. Anyone who scans the chip can determine the authenticity of the digital stamp. This is possible with modern smartphones, among other things.

Why is xDai used with the Crypto Stamp 3.0?

The sidechain xDai lowers transaction costs. For almost all digital stamps, the issuing entities use the Ethereum blockchain. This is currently very popular, but the Ether price is quite high. That is why sidechains are used that have a connection to the actual blockchain. One of these sidechains is xDai.

Thomas Grether

Journalist | Editor | Entrepreneur & Environmental Scientist.
Main focus: Tokenization | Digital Transformation Processes in Companies | Internet and Web Publishing | Environment

Thomas Grether

Journalist | Redakteur | Unternehmer & Umweltwissenschaftler
Schwerpunkte: Tokenisierung | Digitale Transformationsprozesse in Firmen | Internet und Webpublishing | Umwelt