Royal Canadian Mint reveals MintChip, issues $50,000 developer challenge

Hot on the heels of ditching the penny, the Royal Canadian Mint today announced a challenge for software developers to use a new digital currency technology.

In a research and development effort, the Mint has created MintChip, which it calls “an evolution of physical money, with the added benefits of being electronic.” It uses a secure chip to store an electronic value, and a secure protocol to transfer electronic value from one chip to another.

Developers accepting the challenge will be issued a software development kit (SDK), two microSD MintChips, and two remote MintChip accounts that can be used to integrate the technology into digital payment applications.

MintChip is a digital payment standard being developed by the Royal Canadian Mint.

Canadians thus far have been leery of digital payments compared to other countries. In an ITBusiness.ca poll asking if Canadians would use Google Wallet to pay, four out of 10 responded that they did not trust the security of the system. That poll was conducted in October 2011.

Now the Mint, responsible for producing Canadian currency for more than 100 years, is looking for ways to bring a reputable and secure digital format to the digital payments scene.

Developers will try to create software and proofs of concept using the technology, and highlight possible advantages of the digital currency. The Mint is also inviting the public to share ideas about how digital currency could be used in Canada.

There will be winners in three categories: best person-to-person app, best business-to-consumer app, and best micropayment app. Developers have until Aug. 1 to submit their entries, and judging will take place from Aug. 15 to Sept. 12. The public will vote on the entries chosen by a judging panel, and the winners will be announced Sept. 24.

Judges include Osama Bedier, the vice-president of payments at Google; David Crow, chief marketing officer at Maintenance Assistant Inc.; and Amanda Lang from CBC’s The Lang and O’Leary Exchange.

Winners will receive about $50,000 worth of gold from the Mint.

Only developers taking the challenge will get their hands on MintChip, and the entry limit is 500 users.

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