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Royal Canadian Mint ditches MintChip digital currency project

07 April 2014  |  9954 views  |  2 Dead end

The Royal Canadian Mint has pulled the plug on its MintChip cloud-based digital currency and is looking to offload the business.

The Mint unveiled plans for MintChip in 2012, promising to bring the benefits of cash into the digital age, providing users with instant, private, secure, and fee-free access to their money.

The system would have enabled Canadians to use a 'chip' to load value onto a device such as a smartphone, PC, tablet, or store it in the cloud, and then buy physical goods in the real world or digital content online.

Just two months ago vendor SecureKey was brought on board to provide device-based multi-factor user authentication technology. POS terminal giant Ingenico has also been involved in the project, designing a proof-of-concept that will let people make in-store payments using the currency.

Yet Mint spokeswoman Christine Aquino has now told the WSJ that plans have "matured" and a natural next step would be to hand over the currency to the private sector.

"The Mint is currently working with the Department of Finance to explore divestiture options. The Mint is also in the process of completing development of MintChip to package the assets for divestiture," says Aquino.

Comments: (2)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member | 07 April, 2014, 11:13

Is this a classic solution to a problem that never existed, which got little interest from the retail and customer community and withered on the vine?

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Alexander Peschkoff
Alexander Peschkoff - TEDIPAY - London | 07 April, 2014, 11:22

IMHO, the problem was with the concept: MintChip envisages both locally-stored and cloud-stored "digital cash".

To implement the former, one needs ubiquitious consumer-side devices with "chip" - introducing "chip" just for the sake of "digital cash", especially without any tangible retail infrastructure, is an uphill battle (unless one aligns the interests with another major industry that relies on "chips" - e.g. mass transit...)

Moreover, EMV specs have included chip-based "digital cash" since 2004 (called "pre-authorised debit") - there were even two pilots launched, but the concept never took off, because back then it was hard to implement cloud-connected "chips" for instant remote value top-up (a must for any successful "stored value" solution).

For cloud-based "digital cash", one doesn't need any complex infrastructure. In fact, such transit schemes as Oyster - or any of the cloud-based wallets - is nothing else, from that perspective, but "digital cash".

 

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