Geldkarte (German: "money card") is a stored-value card or electronic cash system used in Germany. It operates as an offline smart card for small payment at things like vending machines and to pay for public transport or parking tickets. The card is pre-paid and funds are loaded onto the card using ATMs or dedicated charging machines.
The first field trial took place in 1996 in Ravensburg. Despite a slow initial take up from merchants and customers, it was their use in vending machines that made the system popular.
Since 1 January 2007, the card can be used to prove the holders age at cigarette vending machines. The date of birth is encoded on the card and must be verified when the card is issued, allowing the vending machine to only dispense cigarettes to those who are older than 18 years of age, the legal limit in Germany.
By 2009, millions of transactions were being processed each day using the GeldKarte system with an average of 45 transactions per year per person with an average value of €3.
- "Nutzung der Geldkarte ist rückläufig [Geldkarte transactions decreasing]". heise.de (in German). Heinz Heise. 25 February 2010.
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