In a sparsely populated locale on the Arctic Circle’s edge is the nation of Iceland. Blessed with scenic vistas, high literacy rates, and one of the most wired (broadband) infrastructures in the world, the region has become one of the more popular tourist destinations in the world.
What’s little known about Iceland is its growing repute as a vibrant epicenter for crypto mining. The nation’s abundant supply of renewable energy make it an ideal hub for mining operations seeking affordable energy and cool temperatures.
Iceland also the home of Auroracoin a cryptocurrency based on Litecoin’s code that was created for the people of the country. It was launched on February 21, 2014 amid the declining economic fortunes and financial meltdown that rattled Iceland in 2008. On the heels of the global economic crisis, the country’s banking system collapsed, imploding the savings of thousands of citizens, pushing many of them into debt and resulting in a significant number of mortgage defaults. All of this led to a massive devaluation of the Króna and resignation of top government leaders.
Based on a decentralized, independent monetary model tied to traditional banking, Auroracoin got off to a rocky start. This was due largely to Auroracoin’s founder Baldur Friggjar Ooinsson’s access to the government’s national identification system, leading many to mistakenly believe that Auroracoin was somehow tied to the Icelandic government.
In an attempt to jump start mass adoption of the cryptocurrency, Ooinsson made the bold decision to airdrop Auroracoin to Icelanders, all with the intent of delivering 50 percent of it to residents. Word of the airdrop lead to a momentary speculative boost of Auroracoin’s value to over one billion.
After the airdrop in March of 2014, Auroracoin’s value retreated, hovering at just over 100 million. By month end, it would dip even further to $20 million as citizens scrambled to cash out on exchanges for a profit. This price decline, loss of confidence and enthusiasm led Auroracoin to be viewed as a failed experiment.
Much like Bitcoin-founder Satoshi Nakamoto, Ooinsson’s work was cloaked in mystery. He retreated from the development of Auroracoin post Airdrop distribution which led to a new development team for the project on May 1st 2015.
In 2016, efforts to re-ignite Auroracoin commenced, with ads appearing throughout Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavik. This came on the heels of a major government scandal which led to the forced resignation of Iceland’s prime minister as a result of the Panama Papers.
The Auroracoin Foundation, created in March of 2015 by a team of Icelandic citizens with a broader vision for the coin and its potential impact on the Icelandic economy deserves much of the credit for Auroracoin’s renewed interest. The Auroracoin project is on a new trajectory that aims to not only influence the history of Iceland, but serve as a benchmark for the entire world by demonstrating a national movement that transcends dependence on a fiat currency.
The following short documentary examines the emergence and future possibilities of Auroracoin for Iceland.