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article imageRoyal Canadian Mint looking to digitize currency with 'MintChip'

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By Andrew Moran     Apr 11, 2012 in Business
Toronto - The Royal Canadian Mint is looking for hackers, software engineers and other computer experts to join the MintChip Challenge. The Mint wants to digitize currency and is asking the public to help create innovative applications. The winners get gold.
What does the “evolution of currency” mean to you?
Since the Canadian federal government dumped the one cent penny in its 2012 budget last week, the Royal Canadian Mint unveiled its digital alternative to coinage and small bank denominations; micro and nano transactions. This initiative has been called MintChip.
Value can be hoarded and shared over email, remotely in a cloud, tapping digital devices together and used in software applications. It can be used on the Internet, at a store or mobile devices. No personal information is ever shared in transactions. The Mint says it’s “so easy even a child can use it.”
Other companies in the United States, such as Google and PayPal, have already introduced digital wallets where consumers can control their finances from one cashless area. However, MintChip will not have any link to your bank account or credit card. It is also different from BitCoin, which maintains a fluctuating currency by peer-to-peer currency, because it just transfers Canadian dollars.
“Ever since the beginning of time, people have been buying and selling and using whatever currency was available. But today's digital economy is changing faster than ever, and currency has to change, too,” stated the narrator in the Mint’s video.
“Imagine a whole new breed of transactions that are smaller, faster and virtually everywhere. That's where MintChip comes in. Using a chip, you securely load value onto a smart phone, USB device, computer, tablet or cloud - or maybe even some future device that doesn't exist yet.”
The crown corporation launched its website where it challenges developers to create innovative and secure applications for the MintChip. Those who have accepted the challenge will have until Aug. 1 to submit a prototype and is open to Canada and the United States. The winners receive $50,000 in gold bullion from the Mint and promotional exposure.
Challenge participants will receive a software development kit, two microSD MintChips and two remote MintChip accounts to integrate the Mint’s technology with the developer’s digital payment apps.
Submissions will be judged between Aug. 15 and Sept. 12, public voting will take place from Aug. 15 and Sept. 12 and the winner(s) will be announced on Sept. 24.
It is still unclear as how the Mint expects to make profit from this. It is also leaving consumers to question how hackers will refrain from hacking into these systems. Nevertheless, in less than one week, 500 contestants have entered.
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