The MintChip is a new electronic currency that the Royal Canadian Mint is implementing. This seems weird, because when you think of the Government of Canada, you think of them either as this slow, inefficient bureaucracy that spends its time trying to not get laid off for doing things like reporting facts, talking to journalists or doing other things the Government of the Day doesn’t like, like Science or something.
So, when the MintChip Challenge came out, I was super skeptical and I thought that it would be a joke to replace money with this, because it wouldn’t be secure, and that it would be trackable. So, I decided to look into it, but when you go to the Mint Chip Challenge website, you get the following:
By downloading content from the Royal Canadian Mint (the “RCM”) Website, installing, copying or otherwise using the contents of the Kit (as defined below) or any component thereof, you are accepting a license from the RCM (the “License Agreement”) and you are agreeing to be bound by this License Agreement. If you do not agree to the terms of this License Agreement, you are not authorised to install or use the Kit or any component thereof. </em>
OK, Fair enough. Now when you read the licensing agreement, you run into this part here:
2.2 Limitation on Use - In addition to all other limitations in this section, you expressly agree that except for the Programs provided as part of the Kit, you will not (1) make any copies of the Kit or any component thereof (the RCM will provide you with replacement copies of the Programs without any charge if necessary); (2) modify the Kit or any component thereof in any way; (3) create derivative versions of the Kit or any component thereof; (4) reverse assemble or disassemble, reverse compile, or reverse engineer the Kit or any component thereof; or (5) distribute or otherwise make the Kit or any component thereof available, directly or indirectly, for any use, by any other person. All of these activities are expressly prohibited. </em>
OK, so I can’t reverse engineer the kit to see how it works? Nor can I modify it? That sounds like no fun, I totally disagree with this statement since I should be able to inspect this kit and make sure it’s hard to tamper with and isn’t traceable. So, I decided to see what information I could get from the Royal Canadian Mint. Now, unlike other Government departments, the Mint is a Crown Corporation, and has different rules.
It was decided that releasing the information on the Mint Chip project would disrupt the Mint Chip project. The mint first claims that their shit is so good that other mints may steal their idea and implement their own digital currency, therefore they have to keep their secret currency secret. They then say that by revealing the technology that keeps MintChip secure, that it would then no longer be secure because we would know how it works.
So, which is it? Is the MintChip really the future of currency, or is it such a piece of crap that nobody can be allowed to see its development because then the currency could be easily hacked. I seriously think it’s the latter and while it’s interesting to see the Mint pursue it, I expect that it will fail because of excessive secrecy.
It will still be interesting to see who wins the Mint Chip Challenge, though.