The digital cash platform originally developed by The Royal Canadian Mint is now live and being accepted by merchants in a Toronto neighbourhood, NanoPay Corp. announced this morning.

The loyalty platform acquired Mintchip after winning a competitive bid in January. Now it says that users can download the MintChip app for Android and iOS, and connect it with a credit card to send and receive digital cash with their peers, or to pay participating merchants in Toronto’s Liberty Village neighbourhood.

“This is the realization of all the work we did to acquire MintChip in the first place,” Simon Keogh, chief marketing officer of NanoPay, says. “We’ve been developing version 2.0 of MintChip for the last six or eight months…. we’re taking MintChip to the next step.”

Presently only Canadians have access to the MintChip app, which they can use to transfer credit card funds between peers, though MintChip expects to add support for bank accounts within four to six weeks.

While most Canadians will be limited to peer-to-peer transactions for the time being, a beta program in Liberty Village will also see merchants accepting it as a payment method, which NanoPay has enabled using an iOS app. Participating merchants can accept payments using an iPhone or iPad, inputting the transaction, which generates a QR code that the MintChip user scans to complete the purchase.

“We wanted an environment where we could get it out there and learn a great deal, so we were looking for merchants that represented various types of businesses,” Keogh says. “Liberty Village is perfect because it has sort of an isolated environment and offers a millennial population that can download and try MintChip.”

There’s no shortage of FinTech competitors entering the digital payments space right now. Notably, Apple Pay launched in Canada last November and recently won support from major banks. What’s different with MintChip, Keogh explains, is that it’s trying to provide a digital replacement for cash. While it’s starting with storing Canadian dollars, the platform could be used to store any fiat currency, or even loyalty dollars specific to retailers. MintChip is offering an open API and invites developers to use its technology to store money in their own e-wallets.

Since it’s akin to getting paid in cash, merchants could save money on transaction fees.

“The key thing is on the merchant side. Rather than accepting cash… they’ll have the opportunity to accept MintChip. Because we can move money really cost effectively, they will pay a fraction of what they pay today to accept other forms of payment,” he says.

For peer-to-peer transactions, moving money around will be free of charge. At this point, no cost to accept MintChip for merchants participating in the beta test as well.

Plans for wider distribution of MintChip as a payments method involve POS provider and partner Ingenico SA. A software update slated to deploy this Fall will enable its POS systems to accept MintChip. At that point, there will be some sort of pricing associated with using it, but it hasn’t been determined yet.

If you happen to be in Liberty Village, here’s a list of vendors accepting MintChip payments as of today:

  • Brazenhead
  • Bugigattolo Kitchen
  • Ciao Europa Caf√©
  • For the Love of Cake
  • Freshii
  • Home Hardware
  • Joker Cafe
  • Maizal
  • Merci mon Ami
  • Nutrition House
  • Raaw Japanese Sushi
  • ¬†Smooth Wax Bar
  • Suzanne Gardner Flowers

A promotion running until July 29 will also provide customers paying with MintChip a 20 per cent cash back bonus, up to a maximum of $50. The demo is meant to show that MintChip’s platform can be used to easily set up cash back and loyalty points features for customers, Keogh says.

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