Electronic money, or e-money, is the money balance recorded electronically on a stored-value card or other device. These cards have microprocessors embedded which can be loaded with a monetary value. Another form of electronic money is network money, software that allows the transfer of value on computer networks, particularly the internet. Electronic money is a floating claim on a private bank or other financial institution that is not linked to any particular account. Examples of electronic money are bank deposits, electronic funds transfer, direct deposit, payment processors, and digital currencies.
Electronic money can either be centralized, where there is a central point of control over the money supply, or decentralized, where the control over the money supply can come from various sources. Electronic money that is decentralized is also known as digital currencies. The major difference between E-money and digital currencies is that E-money doesn't change the value of the fiat currency (USD, EUR) it represents, but digital currency is not equivalent to any fiat currency. In other words, all digital currency is Electronic money, but Electronic money is not necessarily digital currency. Many mobile sub-systems have been introduced in the past few years including Google Wallet and Apple Pay.
In 1983, a research paper by David Chaum introduced the idea of digital cash. In 1990, he founded DigiCash, an electronic cash company, in Amsterdam to commercialize the ideas in his research. It filed for bankruptcy in 1998. In 1999, Chaum left the company.
In 1997, Coca-Cola offered buying from vending machines using mobile payments. After that PayPal emerged in 1998. Other system such as e-gold followed suit, but faced issues because it was used by criminals and was raided by US Feds in 2005. In 2008, bitcoin was introduced, which marked the start of Digital currencies.
Since 2001, the European Union has implemented the E-Money Directive "on the taking up, pursuit and prudential supervision of the business of electronic money institutions" last amended in 2009. Doubts on the real nature of EU electronic money have arisen, since calls have been made in connection with the 2007 EU Payment Services Directive in favor of merging payment institutions and electronic money institutions. Such a merger could mean that electronic money is of the same nature as bank money or scriptural money.
In the United States, electronic money is governed by Article 4A of the Uniform Commercial Code for wholesale transactions and the Electronic Fund Transfer Act for consumer transactions. Provider's responsibility and consumer's liability are regulated under Regulation E.
Many systems--such as PayPal, eCash, WebMoney, Payoneer, cashU, and Hub Culture's Ven will sell their electronic currency [clarification needed] directly to the end user. Other systems only sell through third party digital currency exchangers. The M-Pesa system is used to transfer money through mobile phones in Africa, India, Afghanistan, and Eastern Europe. Some community currencies, like some local exchange trading systems (LETS) and the Community Exchange System, work with electronic transactions.
A number of electronic money systems use contactless payment transfer in order to facilitate easy payment and give the payee more confidence in not letting go of their electronic wallet during the transaction.
Cryptocurrencies allow electronic money systems to be decentralized, systems include:
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A hard electronic currency is one that does not have services to dispute or reverse charges. In other words, it is akin to cash in that it only supports non-reversible transactions. Reversing transactions, even in case of a legitimate error, unauthorized use, or failure of a vendor to supply goods is difficult, if not impossible. The advantage of this arrangement is that the operating costs of the electronic currency system are greatly reduced by not having to resolve payment disputes. Additionally, it allows the electronic currency transactions to clear instantly, making the funds available immediately to the recipient. This means that using hard electronic currency is more akin to a cash transaction. Examples are Western Union, KlickEx and Bitcoin.
A soft electronic currency is one that allows for reversal of payments, for example in case of fraud or disputes. Reversible payment methods generally have a "clearing time" of 72 hours or more. Examples are PayPal and credit card. A hard currency can be softened by using a trusted third party or an escrow service.
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