In an age when we can pay for a bedroom suite with a cellphone and buy a pulled pork sandwich with a stash of digital cash (Toronto’s first Bitcoin ATM has just been announced; Vancouver’s already got one), it should surprise precisely no one that the age of the MintChip is upon us.
Its ice cream parlour-flavoured moniker notwithstanding, this emerging form of digital currency is poised to replace pocket change (a potentially burdensome fact of life that the advent of loonies and then toonies has only made more so).
The emerging software, developed by Ingenico with the Royal Canadian Mint, was announced almost two years ago and is still in the R&D stage. Ultimately, the technology will employ near-field communications to allow mobile devices to communicate with existing point-of-sale terminals to process small transactions. Consumers will also be able to use MintChip to send money via a text, e-mail or even a social media message.
The monetary value is transferred instantly, from payer to seller. No third party is involved.
And, while the receiving chip notes the date and amount being sent, no personal information ever changes hands. This is a meaningful, given the raft of privacy concerns that always accompanies news about innovative payment-facilitating technologies. These worries are also addressed with a currency cap that’ll limit MintChip transactions to about $10 or less.
In addition to in-person shopping, MintChip will be applicable for making online purchases and transferring money among private individuals. Its limited financial reach makes it a good bet for nominal transactions, like music and news article purchases.
After another round of proof-of-concept implementation testing within the Royal Canadian Mint, MintChip will move to external testing later in 2014.
The Mint has eight patents pending on the software’s features in major markets around the world. This week, the world’s first MintChip integration is on display at the National Retail Federation’s annual convention in New York.