The Royal Canadian Mint is holding a contest for software developers to create apps for MintChip

Canada is looking to trade in traditional coin currency for a digital version that can be exchanged using devices like smartphones, and it's looking for some help from software developers.

The Royal Canadian Mint is looking to axe its coin business, which it has had for over 100 years. Instead, it wants to use a digital currency called MintChip.

MintChip is a secure microchip that would allow people to pay for small transactions using technology like smartphones, tablets, USB sticks, computers and clouds. However, like cash, the transactions would be anonymous.

"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," said Marc Brûlé, the Royal Canadian Mint's chief financial officer.

In order to get MintChip moving along, the Royal Canadian Mint is holding a contest for software developers and techies to develop applications using MintChip. The winner will receive about $50,000 in gold coins and wafers.

According to Interac, a Canadian organization that allows enterprises with proprietary networks to connect and exchange electronic financial transactions, MintChip will be a hit amongst "big players" that are looking to get into the small electronic payments industry. Caroline Hubberstey, an Interac spokesperson, said the value of small cash and coin transactions is $90 billion, and companies want a piece of that as it emerges.

"You're seeing competitors that have been in the space in a while and new competitors looking at the payments market as an opportunity," said Hubberstey.

The idea of mobile payments is not new. Google released Google Wallet last year while VISA, PayPal and ISIS (which is a NFC venture between AT&T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile) have all offered mobile payment systems. However, MintChip will differ from these because it will be anonymous.

The 500 contest spots for MintChip app development filled in only four days.

Source: The Star

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