Weeks after the Canadian government announced the abolition of the one-cent coin, the Royal Canadian Mint says it’s preparing to launch a digital alternative to coinage and small denomination banknotes.
Called “MintChip” the proposed system would be a virtual payment method accessible through microchips, microSD cards and USB sticks.
“The easiest way to describe it is that it’s a small chip like you would find in your phone,” said Christine Aquino, the mint’s director of communications.
“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,” a promotional video released by the mint described.
No personal information would be required to use the system and only small-value transactions (anything under $10) could be used.
Though the conception has been developed, the software has not. That’s why the mint is offering $50,000 for winners of a contest aimed at developing smartphone apps and other ways of demonstrating MintChip’s benefits as a payment system for consumers, an article in the Leader-Post reported.
The winners will be chosen by a panel of business leaders including mint CEO Ian Bennett and Google’s vice-president of payments, Osama Bedler in September.
According to the Leader-Post, Marc Brule, the mint’s chief financial officer, will disclose more details about MintChip at an upcoming speech in Toronto later this month during a Forum on “Canadian Payment Innovations” sponsored by the The Canadian Institute business think tank.