The Royal Canadian Mint has announced that it is developing a digital alternative to cold, hard cash. They’re calling it called "MintChip."
“Still in the research and development phase, MintChip will ultimately let people pay each other directly using smartphones, USB sticks, computers, tablets and clouds,” The Star reports.
"The digital currency will be anonymous and good for small transactions — just like cash,” the report adds.
Watch the official introductory video on MintChip (via MintChipChallenge):
“There’s been a very huge growing digital economy that is really going to be fueled by smartphones and mobile being the next big thing,” Mint’s chief financial officer Marc Brûlé said.
However, as the video clearly states, the project is still in the developmental stage or, as Gawker puts it, “Canada is making it up as it goes along.” To get the project moving, the mint is offering a reward for whoever helps make the idea of an all-digital currency a possibility.
“[T]he mint is offering $50,000 in an old-fashioned currency -- gold -- to winners of a contest aimed at developing smart-phone apps and other ways of demonstrating MintChip's benefits as a payment system for consumers,” Calgary Herald reports.
The contest "is a way for us to enlist software developers in creating proofs-of-concept highlighting the potential advantages of such a technology," Christine Aquino, the mint's director of communications, said on Thursday.
But websites like PayPal and Google already offer digital wallets! What’s the difference?
According to the mint, the biggest difference between "MinChip" and already-existing online "wallets" it that "MintChip" will have zero personal information attached to it and it will be backed by the mint.
“It’s still too early for specifics such as how the Mint will make a profit from this, how it will prevent hackers from stealing cash, whether the money is anyway traceable or who exactly will load a chip with money, but Brûlé said the response to the contest has been tremendous,” The Star reports.
As Gawker’s Caity Weaver writes: “Let's just see how this one plays out.”