Royal Canadian Mint to Create Digital CurrencyApril 12, 2012
It’ll be anonymous, will it?
So people will be using smartphones, which amount to the most awesome goddamned deployment of mass surveillance technologies in history, to anonymously buy and sell things?
Don’t look at me. I just work here.
The Royal Canadian Mint wants to get rid of pocket change — and it’s enlisting hacker-types for help.
Less than a week after the government announced the penny’s impending death, the Mint quietly unveiled its digital currency called MintChip.
Still in the research and development phase, MintChip will ultimately let people pay each other directly using smartphones, USB sticks, computers, tablets and clouds. The digital currency will be anonymous and good for small transactions — just like cash, the Mint says.
To make sure its technology meets the gold standard in a world where digital transactions are gaining steam, the Mint is holding a contest for software developers to create applications using the MintChip.
The old-fashioned prize? Solid gold wafers and coins worth about $50,000.
It’s such an unusual move from the crown corporation, which has been in the coin-making business for more than 100 years, that Hacker News questioned whether it was an “elaborate hoax.”
It’s not, the Mint’s chief financial officer Marc Brûlé said Tuesday.
Commerce is changing and the Mint has always been innovative, Brûlé said. (For instance, it did an initial public offering of exchange traded receipts of its gold holdings last year.)
“There’s been a very huge growing digital economy that is really going to be fueled by smartphones and mobile being the next big thing,” he said.
Despite the variety of payment options, he said there are “still no cost effective electronic solutions” for low value transactions that can be used regardless of a person’s age or credit standing.