WHAT IS AN E-PURSE: This is the store of value on a card, which can be used in a manner comparable to cash to pay for travel or for other small-scale transactions. The electronic “purse” is secure information stored in a dedicated area or file in the smart-card.
Two different main objectives are identified for electronic purse:
- Replace cash in the public transport payment system, either to move from a primarily cash-based system or as an alternative for the residual cash payments in a system that is largely pre-paid.
- Retain the single tariff as the fundamental fare product; this may be an alternative or replacement for time-based tickets.
There are different concepts for electronic purse, which centre on the nature of the value. The main types are:
- Tokens: The purse consists of units that have no monetary value. The units can be equivalent to individual journeys, or to money units. When the card is presented for travel, the number of units required for the applicable fare is deducted. Eventually, when all of the units have been deducted, the card is no longer usable for travel.
- Transport money: The purse consists of units equivalent to money, but it can only be used for passenger transport fares. Depending on the context, this could include multiple modes, park and ride, and car parking. Although presented to the user in terms of cash equivalent, it does not have any monetary validity outside the immediate transport environment.
- Transport and micro-purchases: The purse contains units equivalent to money. The primary usage is for payment of passenger transport services. The value can also be used for small purchases at non-transport locations, e.g. kiosks and vending machines. There is likely to be a modest upper limit on the value that can be loaded to the card at any given time.
- eCash: The purse contains electronic money, which has full monetary value, is usable at any outlet with an accepting device, and is at any time exchangeable for cash. Transport may be just one of a number of items where the eCash can be used, and might not even be the main usage. The eCash is subject to banking regulations, and would have to be issued and underwritten by a bank.
Depending on the configuration desired by the transit agencies, a printed ticket may be issued. The details of the most recent transaction are usually stored on the smart-card, whether or not a ticket is issued.