As of December 18, 2015, all assets related to MintChip – a digital currency developed by The Royal Canadian Mint – were transferred to nanoPay Inc., a Fintech company based in Toronto that provides loyalty and payments solutions for retail and ecommerce merchants.
According to the Royal Canadian Mint, the MintChip enables consumers and merchants to exchange value almost instantly at a fraction of the cost of other alternatives. The chip itself is a secure smartcard integrated circuit that provides an electronic purse functionality, and can be inserted into all sorts of devices from MicroSDs to USB sticks and hardware Security Modules.
Before The Royal Canadian Mint’s foray into digital currency, the government-owned company offered everything from precious metal storage to spectrometric methods of analyzing gold quality. The Mint produces all of Canada’s circulation coins as well as collector coins. Having tinkered with gold refining in the mid 1960s, the company was able to produce gold with a 9999 fine purity and in 1982, it issued the world’s first 9999 bullion coins. Today, the Mint website offers granulation gold that is 99999 fine.
The Royal Canadian Mint originally announced the MintChip to the public in a contest . Applicants were challenged to “create software applications and proofs of concept utilizing MintChip,” and winners received approximately $50,000 in gold bullion from the Mint.
The MintChip itself was originally designed by a team led by Dr. David Everett. Everett is the CEO of Microexpert and was one of the few cryptographers who represented UK banks on the original research work designed to improve credit card verification. Everett is confident that “MintChip will gain consumer, merchant and regulator trust as a digital replacement for cash.”
Having designed the Mondex smart card electronic cash system used by MasterCard today, Dr. Everett wanted to build a platform that would use secure asset stores to move funds between parties without a central authority, and process transactions both online and offline.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal in 2014, Canadian Mint spokeswoman Christine Aquino stated that “plans regarding the virtual currency have ‘matured’ and the Mint considers turning development over to the private sector one of MintChip’s natural next steps.”
When asked about MintChip and digital currency, nanoPay CEO & Founder Laurence Cooke said, “It is hard to imagine a world in the near future that continues to use cash. Digital currency is inevitable and our MintChip platform has been built to ensure it will exceed the needs of consumers, businesses and governments.”
Cooke said nanoPay aims to make these payments “frictionless” by combining customer identity, loyalty and payment information into single-use transaction tokens. “Digital cash will transform payments globally, from the unbanked to the largest financial institutions, moving us one step closer to a cashless society.”
A civil engineer living in the Middle East, Walid Daniel Dib covers stories that have nothing to do with his day job. He is currently trying to spread the word about the benefits of digital currency in his region. Follow him on Twitter: @ocdib.