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    Thanks to the efforts of companies like Square and PayPal, the age of digital payments is upon us. Now one governmental organization hopes to speed up the introduction of official digital currency into the North American marketplace.

    The Royal Canadian Mint has launched a competition looking for software developers to create digital apps using MintChip, an experimental new anonymous electronic payments technology. Ian E. Bennett, CEO of the Mint, said, "As part of its research and development efforts, the Mint has developed MintChip, which could be characterized as an evolution of physical money, with the added benefits of being electronic."

    The contest, called the MintChip Challenge, is only open to U.S. and Canadian citizens and will run until August, awarding the winners $50,000 in gold in October. The submitted apps can run on Apple's iOS, BlackBerry, Android, Windows or desktop and mobile browsers. Approved contestants will receive two microSD MintChips, two remote MintChip accounts, and a software development kit (SDK). The announcement was met with so much excitement from the developer community that the Mint has already decided to close applications.

    Although the Royal Canadian Mint is owned by the Canadian government and directly responsible for the nation's coinage, the contest itself is, at this point, simply an effort to come up with a proof of concept. Actual application of the MintChip technology may still be many years away. However, last month's phasing out of the Canadian penny indicates that the government is serious about taking a new approach toward its currency.

    The competition categories are Best Person-to-Person app, Best Business-to-Consumer app, and Best Micropayment app, and will be judged by a select group including Jeff King, senior director of X.commerce Platform Partnerships at eBay (the parent company of PayPal), and Osama Bedier, vice president of payments at Google.

    Although the topic of digital currencies continues to command the attention of various governments looking to curb currency theft and enhance retail efficiency, there remains a good deal of concern regarding the security of electronic cash. Bitcoin, a P2P-based online currency, has served as an example of how difficult securing digital currency may be for governmental agencies.

    Just last month $228,000 worth of the virtual currency was stolen, leaving some with grave doubts regarding the new form of digital cash.

    Canada Asks Developers to Create Digital Currency | News & Opinion | PCMag.com
    04-16-12 04:23 AM