The Royal Canadian Mint has announced the winners of the MintChip Challenge. The app design challenge has developers create innovative digital payment apps running on browser, Android, iOS and BlackBerry.
I like app design challenges but no one has a prize pack like the mint: $50000 in gold gets divided among 7 winners, the best app taking home $17000 in .9999 pure gold wafer. The prize pool has attracted so many app developers, that they ran out of SDKs which included a pair of beta MicroSD MintChips.
Judged by a stacked panel of mobile payment industry experts, the app design competition aims to come up with some good apps and use cases for mobile currency on phones. MintChip could be the next step in the evolution of currency, bringing all of the familiar properties and benefits of cash into the era of the digital economy. The digital economy needs a digital currency that is trusted, secure and easy-to-use and can accommodate even the small transactions.
Unlike their American neighbours, Canadians are very easygoing when it comes to radically modernizing currency. Dollar coins, debit cards (Interac) and just recently polymer bills were all adopted with very little fanfare. I would not be surprised if NFC or MintChip payments becomes a standard part of the Canadian consumer experience in just a couple of years after launch.