E-money (electronic money) is the digital equivalent of cash and co.
According to EU Directive 2009/110/EC, Article 1(2), “electronic money means electronically, including magnetically, stored monetary value as represented by a claim on the issuer which is issued on receipt of funds for the purpose of making payment transactions as defined in point 5 of Article 4 of Directive 2007/64/EC, and which is accepted by a natural or legal person other than the electronic money issuer.”
To make electronic payments possible in the first place, a digital currency is needed: e-money. In this sense, e-money is digital cash stored on an electronic server. When a customer loads his chip card at an ATM, for example, the value is debited from his account. This has the advantage that smaller amounts can be paid with the chip without requiring a transfer/withdrawal from the checking account and/or an existing Internet connection each time. So there is always a real value behind e-money.
In addition, e-money – in contrast to vouchers or prepaid cell phone rates – must be widely accepted as a means of payment in at least one other place. The concept behind e-money is by no means new. As long as 20 years ago, digital money could be stored on reloadable chip cards (e.g., prepaid credit cards).