MintChip is a digital currency concept that enables digital transactions backed by the Government of Canada and denominated in a variety of currencies. The Royal Canadian Mint announced the MintChip project in 2012 and simultaneously launched the MintChip Challenge contest to encourage development of interesting uses for the MintChip.
A MintChip is a secure smart card chip, which may be integrated with a SD card for easier connection to computers and mobile devices. The card contains a private key signed by the mint, which is itself then used to sign transactions. When making a payment, the sender gets the ID of the receiver. The chip decrements the balance stored within it and signs a message stating it has done so and that the recipients ID should increment its balance accordingly, this message is then presented to the recipient's chip which verifies the signatures and adjusts its own balance.
The Mint ran a challenge during the summer of 2012 to develop apps and ideas for how MintChip could be used. The prizes included $50,000 in gold bullion. Winners included a wallet app for Windows Phone 7, an app to donate micropayments to charity with every transaction you perform, and a mobile checkout/point of sale app.
The challenge also had a public voting component for the ideas section. The top 25 ideas would then be narrowed down to top 10 by a panel of judges.
British cryptographic expert David Everett is the technical architect of the MintChip program for the Royal Canadian Mint. A related smartcard initiative, the Mondex cash card was launched experimentally in the UK in 1994 but failed to attract commercial interest, but MasterCard's implementation of Mondex smartcards in the USA is still offered. As of September 2013, Marc Brûlé, CFO of the Royal Canadian Mint, had still endorsed the concept and announced the prospect of MintChip 2.0. but in April 2014 the Mint announced a halt to the program and the intention to sell off their MintChip development assets to the private sector.
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- Mills, Carys (30 Apr 2013). "Digital cash replacement from Royal Canadian Mint in the works". Toronto Star. Retrieved 31 Oct 2013.
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- Greenwood, John (19 Sep 2013). "Q&A: MintChip boss Marc Brûlé on getting into the digital currency business". Financial Post. Retrieved 2 November 2013.
- George-Cosh, David. "Canada Puts Halt to MintChip Plans; Could Sell Digital Currency Program". Wall Street Journal - Canada. Retrieved 10 April 2014.
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