Summary S-Cash Method of Payment for Electronic Commerce

Copyright: BAL Consulting P/L 1998-2012. All rights reserved.

Further development has been frozen with the burst of the e-bubble but the IP related to the financial models stored under the investor area.

ABSTRACT

This invention - s-cash - presents a new secure method for payment of goods and services. This invention details:

The invention advances state of the art by presenting methods to:

Background -- Field of Invention

This invention simplifies electronic commerce and lowers barriers of entry. Methods are presented for a subscription-less model of e-commerce. The present invention relates to a new method of payment for electronic commerce that uses pre-purchased monetary units, and in particular to a 's-cash' card containing a set of sequences which are correlated to pre-purchased units of money, and may be used as such following an identification/validation procedure.

Large segments of the population are still deterred from 'revealing their credit card over the Internet' regardless of whether their concerns are justified or not. Credit cards being multiple use devices can thus be abused for a period until the unauthorised transactions are detected. Transactions on the Internet are especially vulnerable to this type of fraud as the credit card holder has not lost her card and is not aware that purchases are being made in her name.

E-commerce merchants including the major credit-debit card companies are in the process of employing sophisticated technology using Public Key Infrastructure encryption, digital certificates and signatures all subject to rigorous audits to increase people's trust.

People have major privacy concerns about revealing their spending habits, financial exposure, fear of identifying for loss of civil liberties, receiving unsolicited advertising, junk mail, and fear of fraud in the consumer-merchant relationship are magnified by introduction of e-commerce.

This invention establishes a method for people to remain incognito and use prepaid equivalents of cash called s-cash, thus limiting their exposure. The method is a win-win with merchants benefiting from issuing prepaid s-cash. The method is highly tamper proof and does not require any sophisticated technology such as smart cards and digital certificates.

s-cash can be used to purchase any product or service that has a s-cash merchant that uses the methods of this patent application.
 
 

Background -- Description of the Prior Art

Postal services are a prime example of old institutions undergoing a true revolution. U.S. Postal Services already has licensed half-a-dozen companies to digital franking and metering over Internet including E-Stamp, StampMarker and Pitney-Bowes. Our 'Method for Integrating Internet SMTP Electronic Messaging with Postal Services advances state of the art by automating the whole process of distribution, print-on demand, insertion, enveloping, franking and metering.

The big challenge for commerce is to manage the successful transition from traditional commerce into e-commerce. This invention presents a bridge from traditional commerce to e-commerce transparent to many consumers and for others already using email or web-devices by natural means not involving use of credit cards - the fear and barriers of entry are reduced or removed to many for using electronic commerce. Consumers are exempt from purchasing or using any new technology and no learning curve is required.

Summary

This invention presents a completely new method, s-cash, for payment of goods and services. s-cash is a paper/polymer card showing the merchant site, monetary value of each s-cash, and the hidden s-cash surface has a bar code and a corresponding character sequence as the key to using the value.
This invention describes how s-cash money is generated, its chain of distribution, usage, security profile and fraud prevention measures. This invention is a break-through for e-commerce enabling consumers to conduct secure e-commerce without requiring any additional technology such as certificates or smart cards, and without requiring consumers to reveal their identity. Consumers using smart cash maintain their privacy and anonymity, and avoid risks such as using credit cards for e-commerce.

Detailed Description of the Invention

What is s-cash?

It is a paper/polymer card sold in a retail market, similar to that of phone-cards and postal stamps. The card is issued in any number of denominations from 20c to $100.00 or higher multiples similar to but not necessarily the same as bank note denominations. The face of the card is marketed with "collectible" type images, such as that of a phone card.

Higher value denominations carry a hologram, water marking or other techniques to make forgery harder. The main defence against fraud, however, is the character sequence of s-cash. The probability formulated below for being able to generate a correct s-cash sequence is extremely low, thus making s-cash as tamper proof as the best bank note or electronic certificate technology but yet being significantly cheaper and simpler to manufacture and distribute.

The rear of the card contains multiple s-cash lottery style boxes, generally 10 on each card. These boxes contain a unique sequence of alphanumeric, upper and lower case characters and an equivalent three-dimensional barcode containing this unique character sequence. The card would also contain merchant ID, card ID and a merchant web-site URL:

Figure 1: Example Front Side of a $30.00 card ($300.00 total).

Figure 2: Example Rear Side of a $30.00 card (10 s-cashes = $300.00 total).

Note: 1st number s-cashed and exposed for use.



Card Operation (Consumer)

Consumers purchase s-cash card cards over the counter at places such as newsagents, Post Offices etc. The unique sequence of characters is covered by the removable (s-cash) material and is therefore hidden.


Example Use: Hybrid Messaging

BAL's 'Method for Integrating Internet SMTP Electronic Messaging with Postal Services' enables integration with s-cash stamps. Postal Services will be able to sell s-cash stamps over the counter the same way any other stamp is sold. s-cash extends the subscription based billing methods  to include subscription-less billing that is conceptually akin to a postal stamp, and thus a lot easier for postal services to implement.

For example: An Internet email user who wishes to send an email through the Australian postal system enters the email address as postal-address@post.au.

This email is routed to the post's hybrid messaging system where the address is interpreted, analysed and electronically re-routed to the printing centre for hybrid mail nearest to the destination address, it is then printed and enveloped in one pass and delivered to the addressee through the standard postal service.

The s-cash stamp is used to pay for this service. This information is then analysed by the postal service systems to validate the unique character sequence and subsequently flags the s-cash value as used. Once used this character sequence will not be available (for a retention period).

How can one use s-cash for payment of hybrid messaging to convert email into postal letter services? There are two scenarios:

  1. The easier scenario is when a web-interface is used. The web will assist in enforcing addresses to translate into a valid Delivery Point Identifier DPID and will have a rate calculator that provides the user with the lowest cost combination of s-cash required. For example a 6-page black and white printout might cost $1.50. The user is instructed to peel off a $1 s-cash stamp and 50c s-cash stamp and enter the s-cash combinations into the web-form.
  2. Email-interface will support s-cash included the message body. The format will be of the form: #s-cash1[.s-cash2…s-cashn]# where the $1 and 50c s-cash stamps may be input in whatever order.


The hybrid mail envelop will get the email address and display name if the postal address translates into a valid Delivery Point Identifier (DPID). If so, then the s-cash stamps are automatically marked as used in the database. However, if the address does not translate into DPID, the user is sent a notification of addressing failureand the s-cash can be reused. The sequences cannot be part of the e-mail headers as headers are transmitted in the clear whereas the body and attachments of a secure S-MIME message can be encrypted.

Hybrid messaging can return exact change by allocating a residual s-cash value s-cash for the difference. This is a saving to consumers and eliminates waste with traditional stamps. The consumer benefits further by having to pay only for valid addresses unlike traditional mail where a stamp cannot be reused if the letter is not properly addressed.

The above method of placing s-cash sequences in the body of a secure structured message enables payment of any goods or services. The merchant establishes the additional information required in such secure structured messages for payment.

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