back to article Brussels bemoans low take-up of electronic cash

The European Commission has launched a new legal framework to boost the use of "electronic money" within the EU, even as we all realise we had even less real money than we thought. The Eurocrats have admitted that earlier utopian predictions that we’d all be loading cash on our mobile phones, travel cards or internet accounts …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    gift vouchers

    In the same way as gift vouchers seem the most pointless thing in the world so does electronic cash.

    "Give me your universal gift voucher (cash), which you can use anywhere, even for nefarious purchases, and in exchange you can have this very limited gift voucher accepted in 3 places worldwide, which we control, charge you for using and can freeze at any time if you are either a terrorist or an icelandic bank".

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    and the government wants it because?

    It's so much easier to track you and your economic acitivity if you are using "play money" instead of cash. Pretty soon all that folding, clinking stuff will be illegal for any transaction so the gubment can track you and your spending and make sure you're properly accounting for yourself.

  3. Nano nano

    Say it again ...

    repeat { Chip and PIN rollout ... missed chance for e-cash ... }

  4. Jimmy Floyd
    Thumb Down

    We know where you live

    Perhaps one reason, out of many, is that we Europeans aren't that enamoured by the thought of all our transactions being recorded somewhere. As I live in London, Uncle Boris (previously Komrade Ken) already knows about my travelling habits through the Oyster card.

    We need a good reason to have another little chunk of our privacy eroded. Like free pr0n - yes, that might do it.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You know I just don't fancy some ignorant self focussed bitch who happens to have gotten into power by asslicking up to an unelected leader, being able to see my transaction list.

    Go away and come back when you can guarantee the basic rights.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    "It's as if people don't trust the financial system."


    Well done.

  7. Linbox

    So What?

    As with most "technology solutions", somebody forgot to ask the "so what?" question about e-Cash. What benefits does AnyBank's eCash solution give me, the consumer, that can't be solved by old fashioned cash? Is it any cheaper? (no). Is it more widely available? (no). Is it accepted by more people? (no). If I stick it in a jar for 20 years, will it still work? (probably not). Does everybody in the entire world over the age of 4 understand it? (no).

    Cash is the new cash. It just works.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    They just want to know what you have and what you spend on.

    And of course any problems with whatever card you are carrying, or its loss, screws you, no one else.

    Like there isn't enough damned cards we are already carrying around. I've not used my works canteen since they foisted cards on us all and refused to take real money. No thanks, I want my legal tender on me, not have someone else have it in advance while I carry around some indication of what I might have.

    Bad enough the bank has the bulk of my cash, but at least then I have monthly statements to query any change. And if I want to be paid, I have no choice.

  9. Xander
    Thumb Down

    Electric Cash Just Isn't Good Enough

    Although the odds are incredibly small, 3 times in a row last weekend I needed to use real cash. KFC's card reader wasn't working, WHS Smiths rejected my girlfriends card and then Morrisons refused mine. So yeah, wasn't very happy with Maestro by this point.

    Also, I don't know about anyone else, but I find it *very* easy to overspend when all I'm doing is tapping in 4 numbers.

    And let's not get started with the idea of everyone paying by card at the pub...

  10. Steve

    The only reason to want eCash...

    Is if you know for sure that you've already cracked the security and want to have a bottomless wallet.

    If I can get hold of a dodgy card that I can top up for free at home, I'd happily embrace eCash.

  11. Miami Mike
    Thumb Down

    Cash is still king

    Another stupid technobabble answer to a question that didn't even need to be asked.

    As a merchant, I get to pay a percentage of sales PLUS a monthly fee to MasterCard, Visa and AMEX for the privilege of being allowed to sell my stock. Customer has a bad day, calls card company - boom, instant chargeback, I lose the money, the merchandise, and get to pay a $25 penalty, whether the chargeback is valid or not. I also have to wait for the payments to clear before I can spend what is now MY money.

    So obviously, this is just what I need - give these financial vampires another way to get a taste of MY cash flow, I'll need a terminal, PCI compliant, of course, pay a monthly fee, pay another percentage on even more of my cash flow, have an entire new and additional universe of problems and hassles, and have to raise my prices even more if I expect to stay in business.

    The whole concept is total bullsh*t. It does not add sufficient value to my business to be worth even 1% of the hassle. If some bright young vendor shows up on my doorstep to tell me what a great deal this is, I shall use him for target practice, and I have LOTS of ammunition.

    Peace (and solvency) through superior firepower.

  12. Dave

    Electronic Cash

    Well, if Brussels would like to give me £100k of electronic cash then I'll happily spend it.

  13. Chris Hamilton


    It's the dogs danglies!

    At least when I have a real portrait of the queen in my wallet, I know that is £10 thats not going to go anywhere unless I exchange it for goods and/or services or some nefarious scoundrel theives it from me, even then I am likely to notice and have a good chance of fighting him/her off. That is a tenner that I know I have. Or in the case of my wallet as it stands now, that is EUR20 I know I have and can't spend in this country.

    How often have we all gone up to the till in Tesco to pay for our goods, only to find that Joe Bloggs at the bank has mistakenly administered a £35 charge from your account, 4 times in the one day! (It happened to me, so i should know) Leaving you not only £100 in the red to the bank, but also a bit red faced to the checkout girl, as you put back your copy of Private Eye and healthy lunch options.

    Plastic has it's place, I use mine with alarming regularity, but it will NEVER fully replace the type of money that crinkles and jingles.

    Mines the one with the pockets full of portraits of the queen. Sadly, they are postage stamps.

  14. Anonymous Coward


    Base it on Mifare, then I'll take lots of them. Well, the same one several times.

    >"It's as if people don't trust the financial system".

    Can I nominate this for the 2008 awards for stating the mind-numbingly obvious? Most people don't trust our financial systems, and that's _before_ we found out it's screwed us all by being even more greedy, corrupt and incompetent than we dared imagine it was.

    Mine's the one with the Mifare cloners kit in the pocket

  15. Francis Fish

    servers and deelie boppers.


  16. Anonymous Coward

    Rare Point of View

    I'm 25 and all in favour of a mobile-based electronic payment system. I dislike the weight, smell and need to carry around coinage. I dislike having to get cash from ATMs with the associated risk of mugging. I dislike occasionally realising I don't have enough cash to make a payment. I pay for fuel, shopping, sports bookings by credit card - which is paid off automatically by direct debit along with DSL and road tax. My salary is paid directly to my account. The only things I use cash for are small purchases such as sandwiches, drinks and entry fees. It would be ideal for me if all those could be done with a NFC swipe of mobile phones. I wouldn't mind a logged transaction history for such a gain.

  17. Michael

    What everyone is missing is the obvious...

    They want you to move to these systems so they can TAX them.

    Lazer cards , Visa cards , etc , are certainly taxable in Ireland (so-called plastic tax), and i'm sure this applies across Europe as a whole too. ( Any eurozone exceptions, pls let me know) .

    Mine's the one with the bankers drafts in the pockets

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Visa Pay Wave

    I've got one of those funky Barclaycard/Oyster/Visa PayWave cards, and while the oyster side of it works fine, the two shops that I've attempted to use paywave in have a) said that I must spend over 6 pounds b)charged me 50p on the transaction. Now correct me if I'm wrong, but that isn't likely to help a system designed for "small purchases up to 10 quid" to take off.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Defeated by Operator Greed

    For me, eCash schemes were defeated by the greed of the operators. Examples:

    1) Two phonecards with credit that "expired".

    2) A bank cash card that allowed loading with "eCash" (just few quid for parking meters) which mysteriously just disappeared one day.

    It doesn't matter how big or small the business, they just can't resist stealing can they? And then they whine on that we don't want to let 'em do it some more.

  20. druck Silver badge

    Privacy and Trust

    I was going to mention the privacy angle as my primary concern, but that has been well covered.

    The other issue is of trust. I don't go to the cash point, withdraw a fair sum to put in my wallet, then when I'm at the checkout of a shop hand over my entire wallet and trust them to take out only the correct amount while I look away. Only checking if I've haven't been diddled the next time I open the wallet at the cash point to put some more in.

  21. P. Lee
    Black Helicopters

    Why is the EU concerned with all this?

    Ah yes, the Queens face is printed on cash.

    We can't have symbols of national identity interfering with the ever-closer union now can we? We must erase familiar national symbols, like passport appearance, driving licenses and cash designs, replacing them with a nice homogenised EU design, or perhaps a corporate logo.

    And on a tangential note, I'd like to keep my constitutional monarchy thank-you very much, and especially the House of Lords. I think the prospect of a leader's death being the only way to express dissatisfaction with the regime would focus the government's mind in a way that voting doesn't seem to.

  22. Steve
    Thumb Down

    private transactions

    And what if I'm just popping down to the shops and my Mum asks me to get her a pint of milk. Do I then need to get her phone to transfer money to my phone? I can see that being a real hit :(

    What planet do these Eurocrats live on? I suppose they have people to spend money for them, so they never carry it themselves, like the Queen.

  23. Roger Hughes

    La Vie bancaire des belges

    Belgium introduced a more or less workable e-cash system, Proton, in about 1995, mainly piggy backing on existing bank debit cards (which had been chip and PIN for some years even then). It was accepted (no PIN required) for loaf-of-bread sized purchases by small shopkeepers who couldn't afford to take debit cards and, crucially (ie, an actual advantage over a fistful of 100 franc notes) if you lived in a little village in the middle of nowhere, it could be charged up from your bank account at any phone box (it worked as a phone card too, IIRC).

    Obviously this is not relevant to the UK, though, since if you live anywhere more than a short walk from an ATM there won't be any shops there either. Or a phone box.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Any thing off for cash?

    Sometimes, somehow, VAT disappears when items are paid for in cash.

    Know what I mean, guv.

    Cards are maybe handy if the inflation rate is so high you can't manage the four suitcases full of paper when you pop out for a packet of Rizlas and a Mars bar ( - but then I guess it's cheaper to use the notes instead, O.K. , forget the Rizlas, just print banknotes with glue down one edge. )

    "Only those with something to hide will refuse to use electronic payment"

  25. Steen Hive


    "I'm 25 and all in favour of a mobile-based electronic payment system"

    Time to raise the franchise to 30. If you are worried about being "mugged", be aware that being mugged is exactly what happens to you every time you move one of your makey-uppy-cash numbers between two points.

  26. mh.
    Thumb Down

    What's wrong with debit cards?

    Visa and Mastercard already have established networks for electronic cash so there doesn't seem a lot of point having another network. Having credit stored on the device itself leaves it open to being hacked, as happened with the first wave of pay & go mobile phones. An online system requires some kind of network connection and all types need some kind of power supply, which isn't a lot of good for a small newspaper kiosk.

  27. Graham Marsden

    "It's as if people don't trust the financial system."

    More importantly, it's as if people don't trust this system and the people operating it and the governments who'll be spying on it (and us) and will probably then find ways of levying taxes on it, not to mention the risk of money disappearing from your account when someone hacks it, followed by the operators saying "we think you were careless with your card, so we're not going to pay you back even though we didn't ensure we had a secure system", to name just a few things...

  28. Martin Gregorie

    Something I really miss

    Isn't the absence of e-Cash. Not even slightly.

    Its the disappearance of the Eurocheque. Since its demise there's no been reliable way of making low value payments to private individuals in other countries or event organisers without setting up pre-arranged accounts.

    Unlike Paypal, you could give/send a Eurocheque to anybody and know that they could get local currency in exchange without it costing you an arm and a leg or them having to have an account. Also unlike Paypal, it was reliable as in backed by reputable banks.

  29. Aldous

    the great simolean caper,9171,982610-1,00.html

    bring on the first distributed republic!

  30. RogueElement

    one word (nine, if you include the title)


  31. chris
    Thumb Up


    "Also, I don't know about anyone else, but I find it *very* easy to overspend when all I'm doing is tapping in 4 numbers."

    I think this is the key. You make a lot fewer impulse purchases when you've set yourself a budget by filling your wallet with real cash before leaving the house.

    And of course, not making impulse purchases and refusing to add to the public debt is terroristic.

    Add that to the rental income that an e-cash system could charge and the market says yes. (Apart from that people do not want it)

  32. Simon B

    I'm sorry, the company that looks after your electronic money has: (please make your choice)

    - Gone bankrupt so you've lost all your electronic money

    - Had it's servers crash so has lost all details of what you had (backups missing too)

    - Lost the laptop giving access to your monopoly money

    - Has its old equipment turn up on ebay giving someone access to your electronic money

    etc etc etc, give me hard cash in my hand any day

  33. Richard Thomas


    I now have the Pythonesque mental image of commuters queueing up to wave their deelie boppers at the oyster card readers on the Tube.

  34. Simon Deane-Johns

    correct link to EC's e-money proposal

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