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The Royal Canadian Mint has invented a new, digital currency called MintChip intended to be an alternative to using debit and credit cards.

MintChip is modeled somewhat on Bitcoin, a digital currency invented by an unknown programmer that looked like it might succeed last year before falling prey to a serious of security and regulatory problems. The promo video for MintChip promises that transactions as small as $0.01 will be possible, something not feasible with credit cards due to the fees on each transaction. A competition is underway that will reward programmers with the best demonstration uses for MintChip.

MintChips are exchanged as digital files that can be verified by software mathematically, without the need to verify your identity or to check in with a third party, as it with a credit card. That’s something it has in common with Bitcoin, but enthusiasts for that currency won’t like the way that MintChips are originally created and issued by a central authority, which is not necessary for Bitcoin.

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