Money card

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Money card logo

The GeldKarte is an electronic wallet in Germany. It is issued by participating credit institutions and banks. The EURO Kartensysteme GmbH (EKS) based in Frankfurt am Main , a joint venture of the Deutsche Kreditwirtschaft (DK), takes on the central tasks of the system in the common interest of the German banks and savings banks.


As an electronic wallet, the cash card enables cashless offline payments without user identification (without PIN verification and without signature) of small amounts of money. The payment is carried out with a prepaid credit , which is based on a chip card is stored ( "money card"). The maximum amount that can be loaded onto a cash card is 200 euros. There are basically two types of money cards that differ in their handling, especially during the loading process:

  • Checking account -related debit card: The current account-related cash card is a normal girocard with money card chip and function. This can be topped up at many ATMs and at separate charging terminals up to a maximum of 200 euros. The corresponding current account will be debited with the selected amount.
  • White card, cash card not tied to an account: The white card is a chip card in standard credit card format that only includes the cash card function. The card can be topped up for cash at the bank counter. There are loading terminals with two card slots at which a white card can be loaded against a girocard . When topping up, the girocard is used to make a disposition from the current account, just like an ATM; the money is not issued in cash, but rather loaded onto the white card's cash card chip.

Both types of money cards can also be topped up over the Internet.

Usage patterns and acceptance

The first field test took place in Ravensburg in 1996 . Despite great advertising efforts, there was already a low level of acceptance of the system by dealers and customers. Efforts were focused on the “wrong” segment (retail). Although customer cards and EC cards from banks and savings banks often already contain the cash card chip and thus around 64 million cash cards were issued in 2006, only 15% were used in the past. The cigarette machine regulation, however, brought the system a large number of visitors. Compared to the previous year, the number of payment transactions increased by 25% in 2007 and sales increased by over 40%. According to the Federal Association of German Volksbanks and Raiffeisenbanks (BVR) from 2018, however, only 0.75% of the cash cards issued were actively used.

The cash card is most often used when paying at machines for tickets , parking tickets and for checking the age of cigarette machines. The main reason is that paying with coins incurs enormous costs for maintenance, security and especially emptying the coin chutes and counting the revenue. In addition, the authenticity check of cash is comparatively prone to errors. The risk of accepting counterfeit money or, on the other hand, rejecting customers because the cash is simply worn out, is therefore high.

In particular, companies and associations with several thousand machines or generally high automated cash turnover are therefore trying to increase the acceptance of the cash card with monetary incentives. For example, single tickets are available from the Münchner Verkehrsverbund (but recently only at the DB machines) at the same price as multi-trip tickets if you pay with the cash card. According to statistics from the German banking industry, consumers paid a total of EUR 119.2 million with the GeldKarte in 2012. The average transaction amount was EUR 3.04. In 2012, users loaded more than 141 million euros onto the prepaid exchange. The average loading amount was 27.98 euros.

In 2014, the cooperative credit institutions announced that they would withdraw completely from the GeldKarte system by 2017/2018 and not introduce the Girogo system (based on the GeldKarte) . In June 2018, Deutsche Bank announced that it would no longer issue cards with the GeldKarte function.

In 2020, the savings banks announced that they would withdraw from the cash card system by 2024/2025. From July 1, 2020, no Sparkasse girocards should be equipped with GeldKarte.

The Commerzbank also withdraws from the system and returns from 1 October 2020 There are no current cards more money card function. Existing cash cards will, however, remain functional until the giro card expires.

Charging process

year Loading
in millions
EUR million
The payment
EUR million
in millions
1996 3.9 0.3
1997 44.6 4.2
1998 89.3 13.6
1999 73.7 20.7
2000 72.8 26.6
2001 68.1 29.4
2002 77.0 35.9
2003 4.2 76.7 37.4
2004 4.2 82.6 38.3
2005 4.4 89.0 37.8
2006 5.0 104 104.4 42.3
2007 6.5 172 148.3 52.8
2008 6.0   137.5 48.9
2009 5.7 152.0 130.6 45.0
2010 5.5 156.7 128.6 42.6
2011 5.3 148.2 125.0 41.3
2012 5.0 141.0 119.2 39.2
2013 5.0 141.2 118.4 37.7
2014 142 118
2015 4.5 133 109 32
2016 4.0 117 96.8 29.1

The cash card can be topped up at most ATMs and in branches of credit institutions. The money card communicates with the responsible charging center via the charging terminal as an exchange. This loading center authorizes loading amounts and then communicates both with the customer bank to offset the loading amount with the customer account and with a dealer registration center, which maintains a shadow account for every money card. In a shadow account, the amount loaded in each cash card and the cash card number are saved. The shadow accounts are used to detect misuse of the cash card if a shadow balance shows a negative amount.

Most banks and savings banks that place the GeldKarte chip on their girocards or customer cards offer topping up as a free service. When topping up at an ATM or loading terminal, costs may be incurred depending on the institute and the card to be topped up. The Volks- and Raiffeisenbanken, for example, charge 50 cents per top-up from other banks in the association.

Since September 2007 it has been possible to top up money cards free of charge online via the Internet. The prerequisite for this is a PC with a connected chip card reader. Payment can be made using the giropay online payment method with a voucher or against prepayment.

At CeBIT 2008 - after an initial live demonstration - the internet portal was for this . A user only needs a card reader with display and integrated keyboard of the so-called class 3 or according to the new ZKA specification "KT-light". The loading application is loaded into the browser as a Java applet; the installation of special software is not required. In order to top up, however, the user must first transfer the amount to a clearing account. This processing step is taken over by a banking service provider that enables guaranteed transfers via internet banking .

In 2013 there were around 420,000 GeldKarte acceptance points in Germany.

Payment process

There is no authentication of the customer towards the dealer or at the payment terminal. To pay, the customer inserts his cash card into the vending machine or the merchant's payment terminal and, if necessary, confirms the displayed payment amount by pressing a specific key. The amount is debited from the credit on the cash card and stored in a cryptographically secured transaction data record on the terminal together with the card number, a payment sequence number and the account number of the stock exchange clearing account of the cash card.

Payment can be made with the cash card at any acceptance partner who has signed a contract with a credit institution to accept the cash card. The merchant receives a “merchant card” that is integrated into the payment terminal as a physical counterpart to the cash card or as a software key.

Every payment process takes place offline, only after the payment terminal closes, the collected sales are transferred ("submitted") to a clearing house (Evidenzzentrale) and credited to the merchant's account with a deduction of 0.3% (at least EUR 0.01). At the card-issuing banks , a shadow balance is kept for each cash card, which corresponds to the card's monetary value.

The dealer data is processed physically separately from the card data. A comparison is only possible with legal permission (e.g. in the course of criminal proceedings); such cases are not yet known from practice.

An average payment amount of EUR 3.02 was calculated for 2010. In 2016, this value was EUR 3.32.


The DES ( Data Encryption Standard ) and, for particularly security-relevant objects, the Triple DES algorithm are used for confidentiality in the cash card system . This runs in EDE mode (Encryption-Decryption-Encryption). Both algorithms can run in both CBC ( Cipher Block Chaining Mode ) and CFB ( Cipher Feedback Mode ).

Message Authentication Codes are used for data integrity . There is both a method for a MAC generation with a length of 8 bytes and a generation with a length of 16 bytes. These Message Authentication Codes use the DES and Triple-DES algorithms mentioned above to generate a Message Authentication Code.

Age verification

Cigarette machine with reference to the cash card system

Since January 1, 2007, cigarettes can only be bought from vending machines if the holder is at least 18 years old using a cash card, identity card or driver's license. The age of majority feature is saved in the case of bank cards and personal debit cards, provided that the cardholder was 18 years old at the time of issue. If the cardholder was a minor at the time the card was issued, no age-of-majority feature is stored on the card. This is where the next check of age is carried out when the next card is produced. Debit cards not tied to an account are never provided with a child protection feature. Non-adults can, upon request and with the consent of their legal guardians, have the date stored in encrypted form on which they become of legal age. From this the cigarette machine can calculate whether the owner is already 18 years old. Since January 1, 2009, vending machines have had to be retrofitted in such a way that an age indicator is required on the card to buy cigarettes in order to comply with the change in the law on September 1, 2007, according to which the sale of tobacco products to children and young people under the age of 18 is prohibited become.

The youth protection feature on the chip of the money card enables the age check (age verification) on the Internet. In an overall concept that has yet to be submitted, the money card has been positively assessed by the Commission for the Protection of Young People in the Media (KJM) for the creation of "closed user groups" on the Internet. In addition to the age test, an examination for 16 years is possible. Porn sites already use the money card as access protection.


Since a number of charging or payment processes can be saved on the chip, it can be used as an “electronic receipt”, for example as a ticket ( e-ticket ). Many transport companies grant a discount when paying for the ticket with a cash card, as the distribution costs are saved.

Pay on the Internet

To pay on the Internet, the customer needs a cash card and a security class 3 chip card reader . When paying on the Internet, a separate payment window is displayed in the browser, in which the status of the process can be seen. The customer confirms the provider name and amount. After this authorization, the cash value is debited from the cash card.

Reasons for using the cash card

The advantage of the cash card for the user is seen in the fact that he has to use "change" less often. Compared to payment by credit or debit card , the advantage is that there is no need for the time-consuming process of identification by printing out a second receipt, typing in the PIN or comparing the signature. In addition, the relatively low costs make the settlement of small amounts with the help of cards attractive for retailers.

In addition to payment transactions in retail, the credit institutions highlight the following possible uses of the cash card in their advertising:

  • paying at parking ticket machines or at parking barriers
  • Buying tickets at machines or in public transport vehicles, such as stripe tickets for the tram
  • the postage stamp machines of the Deutsche Post (no longer possible since 2016)
  • for tickets at sporting events (for example at the Bundesliga soccer club VfL Wolfsburg and in the Schwalbe Arena of the first division handball team VfL Gummersbach).

Cons and Problems


For tax reasons, the registration centers (see above) save the payment transactions made for several years. Traceability is possible if “several institutions compare their data with one another in a manner that was not intended”. It is difficult to trace payments made using a cash card (“white cash card”) that is not tied to an account when the card is topped up with cash at the bank counter.

Susceptibility to failure

The cash card is more prone to wear and tear / technical malfunctions than cash. Is there a fault on the card or e.g. B. in front of a reader, paying by cash card is not possible.

Lack of transparency

Another disadvantage is mentioned by users that they do not have an overview of the expenses and the remaining credit on the chip. However, most vending machines and merchant terminals display the remaining balance after payment. In addition, there are pocket card readers that can display the remaining credit, 3 last charging and 15 last payment processes. Many customers can purchase such a device, which usually has the design of a key fob, from their bank at reduced prices. Many savings banks offer their customers pocket card readers with the designation “miniJack”, some of them at lower cost. Many TAN generators also support the display of the credit and the last loading and payment processes. The credit balance of newer cash cards with Girogo functionality can also be read out using an NFC-enabled mobile phone and a suitable app.

Interest-free loan for providers

The credit on a cash card can be used by the cash card provider as an interest-free loan . During this time, the user misses the interest that he z. B. would receive it in a savings account . For the customer, however, there is no disadvantage compared to holding cash, since he can reduce his amount of cash accordingly with cash card credit, provided that the credit can be used anywhere on the card.

Loss / defect

Since the credit is freely transferable, dishonest finders can pay with the found cash card. The owner is therefore liable for the cash card. The funds are kept in shadow accounts. If the card is defective, the bank can reimburse the customer for the credit.

Limited to Germany

The German cash card is incompatible with electronic wallet systems in other countries , including within the euro zone , such as the Quick function in Austria. The area of ​​use of the cash card is therefore strictly limited to Germany and is also denied to visitors from abroad.

Fund non-transferability

Lending or giving away amounts of money is not possible with the cash card.

Prepaid system

In 2018, the Federal Association of German Volksbanks and Raiffeisenbanks (BVR) cited as one of the reasons for the low acceptance of the GeldKarte by consumers that it was too impractical to top up the card before using it.

Lack of acceptance

Contrary to expectations, many of the potential adoption companies were reluctant to join the system or not at all. It was also not possible to achieve harmonization with other card issuers such as Deutsche Telekom in order to be able to use telephone booths with the cash card. In the meantime, major target companies such as the service providers in the Hamburger Verkehrsverbund , the Verkehrsgesellschaft Frankfurt am Main and the Verkehrsverbund Neckar-Alb-Donau as well as the Deutsche Post have stopped accepting the cash card at their postage stamp machines. The cooperative banks withdrew from the system on October 1, 2014 and no longer equipped the chip on newly issued bank cards with the cash card function.

Payment method studies

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c Stephanie Lorenz: Will the smartphone at the checkout soon replace the card? In: . July 20, 2018, accessed November 4, 2018 .
  2. Pay cashless. MVV, accessed on August 28, 2017 .
  3. Press release: Geldkarte - annual figures 2012. (PDF) (No longer available online.) Euro Kartensysteme GmbH, March 1, 2013, formerly in the original ; Retrieved September 6, 2013 .  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  4. Withdrawal from the GeldKarte system. Raiffeisenbank Todenbüttel, July 20, 2014, accessed on October 31, 2014 .
  5. Harald Freiberger: Once upon a time there was the money card. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung . September 11, 2014, accessed October 31, 2014 .
  6. Konstantinos Mitsis: Deutsche Bank discontinues function: symbol will soon disappear on every EC card. In: . June 10, 2018, accessed November 4, 2018 .
  7. Setting of the GeldKarte / girogo payment function. Accessed July 30, 2020 .
  8. Setting of the GeldKarte / girogo payment function. Accessed July 30, 2020 .
  9. a b c d e f g h i j k l m bankenverband ( Memento of the original from January 30, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF; 52 kB)  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  10. Axel Kossel: Use of the GeldKarte is declining. In: Heise Newsticker. February 15, 2010, accessed August 28, 2017 .
  11. Hanno Bender: The importance of the money card continues to decline. In: The trade. February 16, 2010, accessed August 28, 2017 .
  12. Years of the GeldKarte. In: EURO Kartensysteme GmbH, January 28, 2011, archived from the original on July 18, 2011 ; Retrieved August 6, 2014 (press release).
  13.  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically defective marked. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  14.  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  17. a b GeldKarte annual figures 2016 - Geldkarte. Retrieved August 27, 2017 .
  18. FAQ's. General questions about the GeldKarte. In: EURO Kartensysteme GmbH, accessed on August 28, 2017 (entry "Does the GeldKarte cost anything?"): "Most banks and savings banks that put the GeldKarte chip on their girocards or customer cards offer a free service with it. There are no fees for paying with the GeldKarte. The online loading of the GeldKarte is free of charge, at the ATM or loading terminal costs may arise depending on the institute and the card to be loaded. "
  19. Volksbanks rip off customers. In: Ökotest. February 23, 2011, archived from the original on November 22, 2013 ; accessed on August 28, 2017 .
  20. ↑ Load money card online
  21. Richard Sietmann: The private ATM. In: heise online. April 27, 2007, accessed December 12, 2008 .
  22. Money card - loading and payment amounts 2011  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  23. ↑ Cash card. Hessian data protection officer, archived from the original on July 10, 2017 ; accessed on June 29, 2018 .
  24. Data protection with the cash card. Bremen data protection officer, accessed on June 29, 2018 .
  26. FAQ`s. General questions about the GeldKarte. In: EURO Kartensysteme GmbH, accessed on November 17, 2015 (entry "What can I do if my GeldKarte is defective?"): "If you present your defective card to your house bank, you can have the credit stored on the chip refunded."