Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Sign In

Svalbard, a coalmine of monetary knowledge

Svalbard, a coalmine of monetary knowledge
Date: 07/06/2021 - 07/06/2021
Location: Virtual



Svalbard, previously known as Spitsbergen, or Spitzbergen, is a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, about midway between the northern coast of Norway and the North Pole. The islands were first used as a base for whalers, but there was also an important coal mine activity that was the dominant industry in the 20th century. The Norwegian towns of Longyearbyen and Ny-Ålesund and the Soviet settlements of Barentsburg, Grumant and Pyramiden were all company towns founded on coal mining. Between the 1910s and the 1980s locally issued money was in circulation in these towns. So-called Svalbard money was issued for practical reasons by various mining companies and served as valid tender – independently of the central and commercial banks.

Today Svalbard money is an item for archives and collectors. Yet the story of Svalbard money is an ideal place to start reflecting on the phenomenon of money. Svalbard money represents the very essence of money: money is ultimately a manifestation of labour, production and value-creation. Linguistically, Svalbard money also resembles today’s ultra-modern cryptocurrencies. Svalbard money was intrinsically linked to mining and work; cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin are generated as a result of «mining» and «proof of work».

In close collaboration with the Norwegian ESBG member Finance Norway and various individual Norwegian savings banks, ESBG invites you to a discussion about the meaning and the role of money and the way crypto- and digital currencies can change and stimulate this role. Don't hesitate to register​