PostAG first explored the use of NFT postage stamps in 2019 with real stamps issued using a digital double NFT originally minted on the Ethereum blockchain. Over the next two years, the Post Office in Austria continued the project with its Near Field Communication (NFC) chip functionality introduced in 2021 to enhance the functionality, verifiability, and security of postage stamps.
Reflecting on the faint interest in stamps, Lieberman deconstructed the initial idea and its rapid assimilation some three years ago:
“In 2019, we invented the idea of a physical stamp integrated with an NFT. It was amazing, and we were inundated with all the feedback. So that’s why we said, ‘Well, there’s a target group out there who’s interested in this new way of collecting.’”
Van Hoorn’s efforts to further innovate PostNL’s postage stamp offerings had already explored the use of augmented reality and artificial intelligence on stamps, but PostAG’s NFT exploits led it to reach out to its Austrian counterpart. Knowing that development would take a great deal of time and resources, a collaboration was formed:
“So, we actually decided to contact the Austrians because they were the first, and we really wanted to get their experience and their knowledge and ask them, ‘How did you do that?'” ”
The partnership culminated in the joint launch of a new version of Crypto Stamps, billed as the first ever crypto-stamp joint issue. It is also the first release of PostNL NFT stamps, with the stamps issued in a variety of colors of the Dutch and Austrian flags. The stamps also feature the national flowers of the respective country, with tulips and edelweiss in the background of the PostNL and PostAG stamps.
PostAG and PostNL Crypto stamps on display at the RAI conference center in Amsterdam.
The physical stamps are produced by Austrian company Varius Card, whose managing director, Michael Dorner, broke down the latest security features in a conversation with Cointelegraph. Crypto Stamps 4th Edition features invisible UV and forensic security. NFC chips also provide cryptographic proof of the authenticity of any given stamp.
Dorner also praised the recent conversations he had with the older generation of Austrians who were enthusiastic stamp users who were introduced to NFT through PostAG’s Crypto Stamps. Unfamiliar with digital collectibles, some grandparents inevitably asked their grandchildren to help them deal with the digital twin of their real stamps.
“They called their grandkids and said, ‘Do you know what an NFT is? And the grandson said, “Yeah, what do you have?” “And suddenly they sat down to dinner together, and they checked the cryptographic stamps, and the kids were like, Grandpa, let’s check what color you have.”
All three individuals believe that postage stamps paired with the NFT lead to a philatelic renaissance, with Dorner describing the shift as the next generation of collectors:
Two generations with completely different sides meet and talk. And you have this new community, you have Collectors 3.0. Like young collectors, we’re suddenly starting to get interested in stamps again. ”
These positive sentiments are also aided by the popularity of each launch, with Dorner and Lieberman confirming that all previous NFT-related collections have sold out.
Dorner estimates that between 150,000 and 250,000 postage stamps have been sold with NFT pairs since 2019, indicating that the initiative could be one of the most successful NFT projects in the world. The latest version of Crypto Stamps has been minted on the Polygon blockchain.