The type of electronic payment system focused on in this paper is electronic cash . As the name implies, electronic cash is an attempt to construct an electronic payment system modelled after our paper cash system. Paper cash has such features as being: portable (easily carried), recognizable (as legal tender) hence readily acceptable, transferable (without involvement of the financial network), untraceable (no record of where money is spent), anonymous (no record of who spent the money) and has the ability to make "change." The designers of electronic cash focused on preserving the features of untraceability and anonymity. Thus, electronic cash is defined to be an electronic payment system that provides, in addition to the above security features, the properties of user anonymity and payment untraceability
The term electronic commerce refers to any financial transaction involving the electronic transmission of information. The packets of information being transmitted are commonly called electronic tokens . One should not confuse the token, which is a sequence of bits, with the physical media used to store and transmit the information.
We will refer to the storage medium as a card since it commonly takes the form of a wallet-sized card made of plastic or cardboard. (Two obvious examples are credit cards and ATM cards.) However, the "card" could also be, e.g., a computer memory.
A particular kind of electronic commerce is that of electronic payment . An electronic payment protocol is a series of transactions, at the end of which a payment has been made, using a token issued by a third party. The most common example is that of credit cards when an electronic approval process is used. Note that our definition implies that neither payer nor payee issues the token.
There are four major components in an electronic cash system: issuers, customers, merchants, and regulators. Issuers can be banks, or non-bank institutions; customers are referred to users who spend E-Cash; merchants are vendors who receive E-Cash, and regulators are defined as related government agencies. For an E-Cash transaction to occur, we need to go through at least three stages:
1. Account Setup: Customers will need to obtain E-Cash accounts through certain issuers. Merchants who would like to accept E-Cash will also need to arrange accounts from various E-Cash issuers. Issuers typically handle accounting for customers and merchants.
2. Purchase: Customers purchase certain goods or services, and give the merchants tokens which represent equivalent E-Cash. Purchase information is usually encrypted when transmitting in the networks.
Merchants will need to contact E-Cash issuers about the purchase and the amount of E-Cash involved. E-Cash issuers will then authenticate the transaction and approve the amount E-Cash involved