The European Commission has published a consultation paper on the extension of e-money rules and regulations to mobile phone operators.
Electronic money is defined in the E-Money Directive as monetary value stored on a chip card or on a computer memory and which is accepted as a means of payment by undertakings other than the issuer. Under the Directive, electronic money must be redeemable for cash at equal value and issuers of electronic money are required to implement safeguards against money laundering.
In an effort to clear up confusions over the application of the Directive to pre-paid phone cards, the Commission has concluded that cards which can be used to purchase ring tones and other mobile services from third party operators can be categorised as e-money.
Internal market commissioner Frits Bolkestein comments: "Mobile phones are now used to purchase a whole range of products and services going well beyond simple telephone calls. We have to make sure that EU rules are clear, proportionate and are applied consistently throughout the 25 member states."
The consultation aims to help establish whether it is necessary for e-money rules to be applied in full to prepaid phone cards and the potential impact of such rules on mobile phone operators and associated businesses.