European Central Bank looks again at e-cash

European Central Bank looks again at e-cash

The European Central bank is inviting comment on a draft list of common security objectives for e-money schemes, in an initiative which may form the basis for interoperability between disparate systems.

In its last investigation into e-cash in August 1998, the Eurosytstem laid down a common policy line and established a set of general requirements which electronic money schemes should fulfil, including the maintenance of adequate technical, organisational and procedural safeguards to prevent, contain and detect threats to their security.

In the four years since, the ECB has noted a rise in popularity in e-money as a means of payment in some countries of the euro area. The introduction of the euro and the switch from bank cards with magnetic stripes to smart cards could further stimulate the use of e-money and make it an attractive payment instrument for small amounts, believes the central bank.

The latest guidance is intended to develop more specific security objectives, and is based on the Common Criteria (CC) framework, the international standard for the specification of security requirements. Adoption of stronger controls would go some way to ensuring the overall reliability and technical security of the schemes and increase public confidence, says the ECB.

"These objectives are also designed to level the regulatory playing-field for the different schemes," states the bank. "Furthermore, they have the potential to facilitate the interoperability of e-money schemes."

The draft security objectives are explained in a report entitled "Electronic Money System Security Objectives" (EMSSO). Hard copies of the document are available from national central banks. Comments should be submitted by return by 18 June 2002.

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