Royal Canadian Mint Shuns Bitcoin

While Bitcoin has been attempting to bring money into the modern age, it hasn’t been alone. The Royal Canadian Mint has been hard at work developing their own digital transaction system called MintChip. It touts many of the cash-like features that Bitcoin merchants love and is backed by a governmental entity, so it’s lacking a lot of the barriers to mainstream success that Bitcoin has, and while one might think that the general reaction of the Bitcoin community to a competitor would be hostile (and for a certain group it certainly was) the majority of us had one response: Irreversible transactions with a purely digital government-backed fiat currency? I’d use that to buy Bitcoins, it’s better than PayPal. Apparently the MintChip folks weren’t too happy about that.

See, the Royal Canadian Mint have been running what they’re calling “The MintChip Challenge” – a social site designed for the submission of clever ideas: what would you do with MintChip? Entrant RichardV led the charge saying only “A digital currency can be used for purchasing bitcoin.” This immediately became the most popular submission on the site, gathering far more votes (and comments) than any other entrant. From the moment it was posted to the close of the competition it solidly occupied the #1 slot – and not by a slim margin either.

There were some dissenting comments, but most seemed to indicate that the suggestion was a serious one, with some users even discussing the technical details of how one could implement a MintChip exchange. All seemed well, until the results came in: Not only did the #1 voted entry not win, we didn’t even make the list.

Rules-lawyers in the crowd will no doubt point out that it was never explicitly stated in the official competition rules that the voting system would be used to decide the winners, just to choose the field from which the winners would be chosen. OK, sure, the rules are pretty clearly stated, but so is the unspoken intent: when you implement a voting system, the highest voted suggestion that isn’t “I’d pay for my hookers and blow with MintChip” wins, especially when it’s a landslide vote. Apparently they weren’t taking us seriously – apparently they tossed us in the “ridiculous” pile and awarded the win to “A digital currency can be used for anonymous donations” instead – despite the fact that identity verification is built into MintChip and you can’t actually do that. That’s right, their winner is a suggestion that MintChip can’t even implement.

It might be a little over the top to call it “fraud” – they didn’t technically violate the rules of the competition – but it sure feels like it. What do you think?

Should Richard have won the MintChip Challenge?

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  1. TheButterZone says:

    Gasp! A government entity being a bunch of wankers!

  2. Let's forget MintChip, it's a dead end.

  3. Drugged Thug says:

    "despite the fact that identity verification is built into MintChip"

    Source for this? According to the MintChip FAQ, "It operates without the need for personal identification," the exact opposite of identity verification being built-in:

    • My understanding is that it exchanges much like cash so each person in the chain need not request or demand ID, but that much like Bitcoin the receiving end of every transaction is aware of the entire transaction chain that led to them. Since, unlike Bitcoin, MintChip is a transaction system run by a central governmental agency, the assumption is that such transactions could easily be traced by them.

      Then again I could be completely wrong – it’s not exactly like MintChip is a published open-source project that follows known rules 100% of the time – that’d be Bitcoin…

  4. Who knows if it's legit, but this is interesting:…

    What is publicly known, for sure, is each mintchip has an identity that is communicated to the other party when you make a transaction. That identity may or may not be able to be tied to your real identity, but it certainly could be if you don't get your mintchip anonymously. I highly doubt they're going to encourage ways to get the chips anonymously, but hopefully I'm wrong.

  5. Remarks from one of the MintChip judges:

    …responding to the 9/24 Voorhees paper:

  6. Samantha Tse says:

    Just wanted to point out that the main MintChip Challenge is the software challenge on, where software developers from across North America created 57 digital payment apps that use MintChip. The Ideas Challenge was a complimentary challenge to generate ideas for apps.

  7. Ha, let the Mintchip bureaucrats act like typical jackbooted government thugs.

    It will be all the sweeter when Satoshi hacks the living soul out of Mintchip within 2 months of its launch!

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