German e-purse network prompts smart ideas
In Germany an e-purse support association called 'Initiative GeldKarte' has been formed by a network of merchants that accept the country's GeldKarte prepaid smart card, along with technology suppliers that support the card.
The aim, according to co-founding member and smart card reader supplier OmniKey, is to promote and support the GeldKarte - a chip-based electronic purse which is jointly managed by the German banking industry.
Through its participation in Initiative GeldKarte, OmniKey aims to demonstrate and promote to potential users the advantages of the card as a cashless payment method, as well being as a supporting medium for a variety of other applications (including customer loyalty programmes).
Existing applications The chip on the GeldKarte cash card can carry amounts of up to Euro 200 (approx. US$240), which can be used for payments at parking garage ticket machines, public transport tickets, cigarette vending machines, and for shopping on the internet.
Age verification Interestingly, the chip also includes a feature that can verify the age of the cardholder. According to OmniKey's chief sales officer, Volker Kunz, the card's age verification feature potentially opens up an array of new application areas which, with time and increasing consumer adoption, will increase the smart card's reach. Kunz noted: "Our Plug & Play smart card readers, which can be connected to home PCs through a standard USB port, make age verification procedures as well as secure payment transactions over the internet feasible."
Online safety trials Likewise, the protection of minors while on the internet is seen an important issue for Initiative GeldKarte. Numerous events have been organised in various German cities to show how the legal requirements for the protection of minors in online and offline applications can be fulfilled through the card's security features, and a number of pilot projects with internet cafes and online adult content providers are already under way.
Duties Initiative GeldKarte was formed to act as a central news and information source for the GeldKarte payment card and chip cards in general, and will also be investigating potential applications as opportunities develop. The association will also communicate with other political and economic organisations to help promote smart cards as multifunctional platforms for various business applications.