Auroracoin, which we covered previously, just hit 3rd place in terms of market capitalization. It's up over 300% in the last 24 hours, a phenomenal leap even for the famously volatile cryptosphere. With a price of $15 per coin, its market cap of nearly $160 million gives it a total value of just under half that of Litecoin and over twice that of its nearest rival, Peercoin:
Auroracoin will have a total issuance of 21 million coins, half of which will be evenly distributed to every Icelandic citizen on the 25th of March. As Iceland's population is around 320k people, each Icelander will get 31.8 AUR.
At the current rate of exchange, that would be around $477 freely given to each citizen!
Needless to say, such a generous giveaway would make headlines, not just in Iceland but around the world.
Although price has fallen back to just under $13 since I began this article, that would still make for a pleasant $413 gift. It remains to be seen what the final value will be at the time of the "airdrop" when the coins are distributed. But if the Auroracoin price remains high, the giveaway should certainly create a lot of excitement and positive publicity.
What makes this possible is that, for better or worse (in this case certainly the former), Iceland has an extensive identity database, of which certain information is public. This allows the Auroracoin team to allocate the 31.8 AUR to each citizen. Although some may ignore the gift, many are likely being curious enough to embark on a journey of cryptocurrency discovery - they'll need to if they intend to convert their prize into fiat for "everyday" spending.
As Bitcoin tends to have high penetration in Scandinavian countries, probably due to near-ubiquitous internet access and relatively familiarity with information technology, I expect the Auroracoin adoption rate to be significant.
If all goes well, the coin's creator, "Baldur Friggjar Odinsson," will deserve congratulations for promoting cryptocurrency via his innovative distribution plan.
The coin's official announcement thread on BitcoinTalk can be found here.
Update: Auroracoin just hit $17.55, a staggering 469% increase that'd see $558 in every citizen's pocket! (Maciej's comments below, about that money being far from in their pockets yet, are worth keeping in mind however).