Re: MintChip launched by Royal Canadian Mint

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Pelle Braendgaard

Apr 5, 2012, 11:48:05 AM4/5/12
to Manu Sporny,, Web Payments
I just wrote a piece on it here:

I really don't see it as being useful for e-commerce apps. Some of their technical choices make it impossible to do so at scale. However I do see various niches that it could be useful in.


On Thu, Apr 5, 2012 at 2:44 AM, Manu Sporny <> wrote:
"Today's digital economy is changing faster than ever, and currency has
to change too. It is, introducing MintChip, from the Royal Canadian Mint
- the evolution of currency.

MintChip brings all the benefits of cash into the digital age. Instant,
private and secure, MintChip value can be stored and moved quickly and
easily over email, software applications, or by physically tapping
devices together."

I was a bit floored that this is something that a government body is
doing - go Canada! Upon a cursory look, it seems as if it is a
pseudo-competitor to Bitcoin, except that it's centralized. I find it
questionable that the hardware device is secure, or if that's even a
good idea. I don't like the idea of carrying around more than $300 with
me at any given time - that transactions are non-reversible is
problematic. You get mugged, you loose your digital cash... digital cash
should be better than physical cash... not have the same problems.

Merchants hate credit card charge-backs, but it's also a pretty
pro-customer feature of modern monetary systems. The technological
underpinnings of MintChip look solid, but it still seems limited to
digital cash only. That is, no digital receipts, no credit mechanism, no
crowd-funding mechanism, etc. The fact that it isn't tied to the
Canadian dollar is a bad move. Alternative currencies have a huge
crossing-the-chasm disadvantage: nobody accepts it until it becomes
popular, it doesn't become popular because nobody accepts it. So, I
expect it to languish unless it is tied directly to a fiat currency.
That would be fairly easy to do with the political will. Understandably,
the RCM is moving slowly on this one.

I think their cloud-based approach is a better solution, but the problem
with that is still the non-support of charge-backs. Also - they haven't
documented any part of the technological protocol that I could see - bad
form, hope they explain how the system works (in a patent and
royalty-free way). In any case, glad to see government dabbling in this
sort of technology.


-- manu

Manu Sporny (skype: msporny, twitter: manusporny)
President/CEO - Digital Bazaar, Inc.
blog: PaySwarm Website for Developers Launched

-- - Like money, just smaller - My blog about startups and agile banking
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