from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Logo on girocards and at points of acceptance

Girocard ( own spelling girocard ; colloquially EC for Electronic Cash ) is a common framework for the German debit payment system and the German ATM system .


To the history before 2007

The name and the Girocard logo were introduced in 2007 by the Central Credit Committee (ZKA; today Die Deutsche Kreditwirtschaft ) by renaming the former debit card . While the name ec-Karte is still very well known, the knowledge that this payment card has been renamed and Girocard is the successor system has not yet caught on with the majority of the population.

Cards with the “Girocard” or “Electronic Cash” logo are only issued by credit institutions , usually in connection with a current account . The card payment is made by entering the PIN ( personal identification number ) by the card holder at the POS terminal .

The Girocard procedure is a purely German procedure that is not supported abroad. Similar, but internationally widespread debit card systems are Maestro and V Pay . As a rule, Girocard cards are also equipped with Maestro or V-Pay functionality by the issuing credit institutions in order to enable payments and withdrawals abroad. These combined cards can be recognized by the additional Maestro or V-Pay logo on the card.


The Girocard is very widespread in Germany. According to a study by the market research institute GfK in July 2015, 95% of citizens had a girocard, and a total of over 100 million cards were in circulation. 75% of the cardholders used the Girocard for cashless payment in retail.

In 2015, almost 2.6 billion transactions with a total turnover of 138 billion euros were carried out with the Girocard. According to a study by the Deutsche Bundesbank on payment behavior in Germany from 2014, around 15% of all payments were made with the girocard (which made around 30% of total sales); This made the Girocard the second most important payment instrument after cash. By comparison, credit cards only generated around 4% of sales; other debit card systems were of no importance.

Goal setting

Girocard is intended to guarantee the safe and easy use of debit cards using the personal identification number (PIN).

The European banking industry has meanwhile introduced the European Payments Area (SEPA). The aim of SEPA is to give all citizens the opportunity to carry out payment services in the euro area under the same conditions as in their home country. Girocard is primarily intended to facilitate the international acceptance of German debit cards in the course of creating a uniform logo for the SEPA.

Acceptance mark

girocard 2007
electronic cash PIN pad

The acceptance marks are the pictograms “girocard” and “Electronic Cash PIN-Pad”. The technical appendix to the conditions for participation in the "Electronic Cash" system of the German banking industry (dealer conditions) contains the obligation of the dealer to use "Electronic Cash PIN-Pad" and "girocard" as acceptance marks at newly set up checkout locations until further notice to be used in parallel. The girocard acceptance marks are also applied to the debit cards of banks and savings banks. The trademark rights to the acceptance mark (girocard acceptance mark and electronic cash PIN pad acceptance mark) are held by EURO Kartensysteme GmbH for Die Deutsche Kreditwirtschaft .

In a transition phase, the “ec electronic cash” pictogram can still be found on debit cards of the German credit industry and at POS terminals as an acceptance symbol. This symbol was used for the transition phase from Eurocheque (paper-based payment by check) to payments with an EC card (card-based payment with PIN). After the Eurocheque procedure was abolished, the issuing of EC cards by the German credit industry was discontinued and the trademark rights to Eurocheque were sold to Mastercard. The Electronic Cash Logo.svg"ec electronic cash" symbol is no longer officially used as an acceptance symbol by the German banking industry. As part of normal card exchange, the cards that are still available are provided with the characters “girocard” and (for older cards) “Electronic Cash PINPad”. Newly installed electronic cash POS terminals also bear the “electronic cash PINPad” or “girocard” characters.

The logo or the “ec” label can sometimes be found on Mastercard debit cards, but they do not have a Girocard payment function. The reason is that the name and logo are owned by Mastercard and the credit card company uses the brand, which is still very well known in Germany, for its “Debit Mastercard” for marketing reasons.

Typical combination

A girocard is usually combined with several services, including a. with a rechargeable GeldKarte , the Maestro or V Pay function for using the card abroad.

Contactless payment

Various near-field communication systems are used for contactless payment using Near Field Communication (NFC) :

  • On the cards of the savings banks, it is the prepaid Girogo method , which is the contactless variant of the cash card that can be recharged via the merchant terminal .
  • Since July 2017, Girocard has also been supporting the “ girocard contactless ” procedure, in which NFC card payments from the giro account are made contactless and for less than 25 euros without a PIN.
  • PayPass is a system of the credit card organization MasterCard.
  • Paywave is a method of the credit card organization VISA.

Network operator

The working group of electronic cash network operators brings together all network operators approved by DK in Germany. According to the Federal Cartel Office, the network operators who have a significant market share are:

  • Ingenico - Ingenico Payment Services GmbH (until 2014 easycash), Ratingen. Market share 40% (as of 2007)
  • TeleCash GmbH & Co. KG, Stuttgart (over 20% market share)
  • B + S - B + S Card Service GmbH. Frankfurt am Main (10% to 15% market share)
  • WEAT - WEAT Electronic Datenservice GmbH, Düsseldorf (less than 10%)
  • PaySquare - since 2010 PaySquare SE (until 2010 Montrada, under 10% (as of 2006), according to own information from 2010 number 3 in Germany)
  • InterCard - InterCard AG, Taufkirchen b. Munich (less than 10%)

Furthermore, in 2006 the companies DVB Processing, VR Payment GmbH, Tyco / ADT, Bank-Verlag, CardTech, CCV AllCash ecm, EKS, Alphyra, Experian, Paycom, Lavego, Telekurs each had a market share of less than 3% . In 2010, the network operators only included VR Payment, CardTech and Lavego, but also AGES, SIX Payment Services , Deutsche Bahn , Deutsche BP , Douglas Informatik & Service, Elavon, ESSO Germany , ICP International Cash Processing GmbH, Postbank, Shell and transact.

Hardware and software

An older card terminal

A card terminal (also: dealer terminal or EFT POS terminal ) is made up of hardware and software components. The main components in the hardware area are the security module , the PIN pad , the printer, the display , the magnetic stripe card reader , the chip card reader as well as the communication module and the power supply.

The software mainly consists of the operating system , the communication software, the software of the security module and various software modules for OPT , EMC and additional applications (prepaid, customer loyalty systems, remote maintenance). The most important element here is the so-called safety module. Without this, the terminal is only suitable for electronic direct debit (ELV).

All card terminals using the girocard procedure must be certified by the Deutsche Kreditwirtschaft for participation in cashless payment transactions. Terminals that exclusively support the ELV do not require certification by the DK. The operation of a card terminal requires a provider contract with a network operator. The provider (technical network operator) carries out the further processing of the data collected by the terminal. The commercial user (business owner, dealer) is looked after by a service provider (commercial network operator) while the terminal is in use, can use a hotline, receives technical support and warranty services from on-site technicians and has a contact person for questions about billing, transaction controlling, contract management, etc. .

Card terminals have a unique Terminal Identification Number (TID). Providers have centrally assigned number ranges for their devices with which the TID begins:

  • 508 Computop
  • 510 AGES
  • 520 VR Payment
  • 525, 528, 725, 728 LAVEGO
  • 535 Douglas
  • 540, 541, 542, 543 FirstData / TeleCash
  • 560 REWE
  • 565 Elavon
  • 580 VR Payment
  • 582, 680, 681 VÖB-ZVD
  • 590 DB Sales
  • 600, 650, 651, 652, 653, 654, 701 BS PAYONE
  • 612, 614 InterCard
  • 655 Concardis
  • 660, 661, 662, 670, 671, 800, 860, 861 PaySquare SE
  • 680 SIX Payments
  • 695 transact
  • 700 shell
  • 710 German BP (ex-Aral)
  • 740 WEAT

security breach

In July 2012 it became known that due to a security gap in a reader device that is widely used in retail, the card data including the personal identification number (PIN) could be spied on via the computer network and used for criminal purposes. The security hole uses a memory overflow that can typically be exploited with technologically outdated software with low type security . The provider of the payment services VeriFone wants to close the security gap by updating the software.

Chip versus magnetic stripe

Each payment card is usually provided with a magnetic strip . The magnetic stripe is only read and therefore only contains static information. From 2000, more and more banks in Germany equipped the newly issued cards with an additional chip, the EMV chip. In 2008, 70% of the cards issued had a chip. The chip can calculate like a small computer and answer queries without being able to (completely) read its content. Magnetic stripes can be easily copied, whereas chips cannot. In order to maintain downward compatibility, especially with the mostly integrated Maestro card, the cards still have magnetic strips. Payment centers that can handle both types of communication generally choose the more secure one via the chip. The approval ordinance TA (Technical Annex) 7.0 of the DK introduced that the chip must be used if a chip is available. Since 2011 it is mandatory to use the chip for the electronic cash procedure.

A card's magnetic stripe has three tracks. Track 3 of the magnetic stripe for payments was read in Germany until September 30, 2009; it was used for the electronic direct debit. Since then, the internationally common track 2 has been read out.

The Federal Criminal Police Office asks the banks to issue cards without magnetic stripes as standard and only customers who use their EC cards outside of Europe to issue a card with a magnetic stripe.

Payment authorization

Girocard with magnetic stripe

A guaranteed payment at a POS terminal (Point Of Sales) works as follows:

The main feature is the online authorization of the payment. During the online authorization, the card used is checked against a block file, the entered PIN is checked for validity , the entered payment amount is compared to the available amount (credit plus overdraft minus reserved debits) of the account holder. If one of the points mentioned is checked negatively, the payment will be rejected. Authorization and checking of account coverage and compliance with the daily limit are carried out by the computer center of the card-issuing institute.

General procedure for a Girocard payment using the magnetic strip:

  1. Amount is entered.
  2. A card is requested and read out using the card reader (magnetic reader).
    • The security module is activated and asks you to enter the PIN.
  3. The communication module establishes the connection to the provider and registers there for the data exchange.
  4. The plausibility checks are carried out via data exchange via the communication link.
  5. An online connection with the bank checks whether
    • there is no entry for the card used in the lock file,
    • the entered PIN is correct,
    • the payment amount is within the available budget.
    Payment will be declined if any of the conditions are not met.
  6. The communication module logs off from the provider and terminates the connection.
  7. The printer creates a record of the payment or rejection. The display shows the corresponding.
  8. The result “payment made” guarantees the merchant his payment.

Girocard with chip, chip offline

General procedure for a "girocard" payment using the chip:

  1. Amount is entered.
  2. Card is requested and read out using the card reader (chip reader).
    • The security module is activated and asks you to enter the PIN.
    • The correctness of the PIN is checked in the card's chip. If the entered PIN is correct, the incorrect entry counter is set to zero. If it is incorrect, the incorrect entry counter is increased by one; if it reaches three, the card reports its own blocking. (The bank can unlock the chip using a special banking function terminal (BSFT).)
    • The desired payment amount is sent to the chip on the card.
    • If a sufficiently high credit limit that has not yet expired is stored in the chip, the amount is subtracted and the reduced credit limit is stored on the chip, continuing with step 7.
  3. The communication module establishes the connection to the provider and registers there for the data exchange.
  4. The plausibility checks are carried out via data exchange via the communication link.
  5. Via an online connection with the bank
    • checks whether there is no entry for the card used in the bank's lock file
    • verifies that the payment amount is within the available budget.
    • the payment is refused if one of the criteria is not met.
    • a payment release (authorization) is sent to the chip and saved there. In addition, the following information can be saved: "Further payments up to a total of EUR XXX are permitted."
  6. The communication module logs off from the provider and terminates the connection.
  7. The printer creates a record of the payment or rejection. The display shows this.
  8. The result “payment made” guarantees the merchant (if submitted in time) his payment.

Steps three to six can be omitted if the card is configured accordingly and as soon as the credit limit stored on the chip has not yet been exhausted. As a result, line costs are not incurred with every payment process and, in particular, the payment process is often greatly accelerated, since no online connection has to be established. The bank grants its customers a loan in addition to the overdraft facility.


  • For the first Girocard transaction, a simplified amount of 30 euros is available. The terminal asks the bank and then saves the payment approval; further payments are permitted up to a total of 500 euros, for example.
  • In the shop next door, 70 euros are again paid for with Girocard, a request to the bank is not necessary because the payment authorization is already saved on the chip. A remaining credit line of 430 euros is now stored on the chip.
  • On the next day within the same month, 419 euros are to be paid using a Girocard. Once again, it is not necessary to contact the bank because the payment authorization is already saved on the chip. A remaining credit line of 11 euros is now stored on the chip.
  • On the last day of the month, an amount of 12 euros is paid in another shop. The credit line on the card is insufficient. The connection to the bank is established. The bank reports that 12 euros will be fine immediately and another 500 euros by the end of the next month.


The costs of a Girocard payment depend on the amount to be paid. For the retailer, they amount to a maximum of 0.2% of sales. In addition, there are costs for the technical provision, which are charged by the respective network operator.

The merchant terms and conditions for participation in the ec system once provided that the merchants had to “accept the cards at cash prices and conditions”, that is, the merchants would bear the fees and, when paying with Girocard, only give the customer the cash price of the goods or service. In retail, it is still common today that amounts can sometimes only be paid with the card above a certain amount (e.g. 10 or 15 euros). Since November 2014, payment guarantee fees have been negotiated between card issuers and merchants in a market-oriented process. New dealer conditions also apply. Furthermore, the new terms and conditions allowed companies to grant discounts or add a surcharge to the cash price or any cash payment amount. However, such a mark-up had to be reasonable and based on the company's real costs. Since January 13, 2018, any fees and surcharges for payments with debit and credit cards, including the Girocard, at the expense of the buyer have been prohibited by an EU directive implemented in national law.

Authorization feature

Postings on account statements are usually shown as follows:

  • ELV68197325 04/26 07/18 ME0
  • EC 68197325 260410180710OC0

First comes the payment type “EC” or “ELV”, then the terminal ID (here: 68197325), then the date and time (here: April 26, 2010 18:07:10), then a two-digit authorization feature, then the card sequence number (here: 0)

There are the following authorization features, each of which indicates the technology used to authorize the payment:

  • ME / MK - magnetic strip-based authorization girocard with (ME :) debit card without restriction (formerly: ec card) or (MK :) other card, bank card, customer card
  • CE / CK - chip-based authorization girocard with (CE :) debit card without restriction (formerly: ec card) or (CK :) other card, bank card, customer card
  • FE / 2E - track 2 (FE :) fallback (2E :) no fallback
  • IC / OC - EMC authorization (IC :) Offline (OC :) Online

Payment method with Girocard

Geldkarte and Girocard offer the card-accepting merchant a payment guarantee, ELV payments, on the other hand, are not guaranteed and are therefore associated with a potential risk of default .

  • The market share of Girocard (with / without PIN entry) was 48.6% in 2018, 21.1% in 2012 and 19.4% in 2009 with EUR 71 billion.
  • The electronic purse GeldKarte can also be used for payment. With annual sales of EUR 0.1 billion, it has a market share of less than 0.04%.
  • ELV (electronic direct debit ) online or offline. In 2005, 12% of sales in trade were processed using this method. The market share of EUR 45 billion in 2009 was 12.2%. The procedure was introduced in 1984. With ELV online (also sometimes called OLV), every online payment at a network operator is checked against a nationwide blacklist and scoring parameters. With ELV offline there is no telephone connection or test. It is the cheapest method for traders. In all procedures, only the account number, the bank code and the card number are read from the magnetic strip or chip . The customer gives derogation for electronic cash by signing a direct debit with direct debit . A contract for the purchase of receivables can be concluded against defaults (return debits). In contrast to the abolished POZ procedure, the cardholder's bank is not obliged to pass on the cardholder's name and address to the merchant in the event of payment defaults, which represents an increased risk for the merchant.
  • POZ ( Point of Sale without payment guarantee ), in contrast to OLV and ELV, which are procedures of the trade, POZ was a procedure of the Central Credit Committee (ZKA, like the DK) from its introduction in 1994 until its abolition on December 31, 2006 then called). During the payment process, a blocking request was made at the headend of the credit institution that issued the card. If the card was not reported as blocked, the retailer issued a direct debit. With his signature, the customer issued a direct debit with direct debit authorization and agreed that his bank could pass on his name and address to the dealer on request (in the event of defaults or return debits). The cost was 5 cents per lock request. In 2005, POZ had a share of 2.3% in retail sales.

Payment method studies

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b GfK study July 2015 - Awareness of girocard in Germany. (PDF; 812 kB) Management Summary. (No longer available online.) EURO card systems, July 2015, archived from the original on March 15, 2016 ; accessed on April 28, 2019 .
  2. girocard statistics 2007–2015. (PDF; 430 kB) (No longer available online.) The Deutsche Kreditwirtschaft, archived from the original on April 9, 2016 ; accessed on April 28, 2019 .
  3. Deutsche Bundesbank (Ed.): Payment behavior in Germany 2014 . 2015, p. 25 ( online (PDF; 1.3 MB) [accessed April 9, 2016]).
  4. Technical appendix to the conditions for participation in the electronic cash system of the German banking industry (dealer conditions) . ( PDF [accessed April 14, 2010]). PDF ( Memento from March 4, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  5. Andreas Neuhaus: The comeback of the "EC card". Handelsblatt, online on July 24, 2017
  6. Bundeskartellamt (ed.): Merger proceedings order in accordance with Section 40 (2) GWB. ( Memento of November 14, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 313 kB, p. 45).
  7. Arno Maierbrugger: Deutsche Easycash throws itself into the Austrian market. ( Memento from December 22, 2015 in the Internet Archive ), December 6, 2007
  8. List of network operators approved by the Deutsche Kreditwirtschaft (DK) in the electronic cash system. (PDF) Die Deutsche Kreditwirtschaft, September 2019, accessed on September 5, 2019 .
  9. Spiegel online: Vulnerability in terminals for EC card payments unsafe. Retrieved July 13, 2012
  10. Jakob Schlandt: Security hole in EC cards. ( Memento from July 17, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Frankfurter Rundschau online. Retrieved July 13, 2012
  11. REA Card GmbH: Changes in the "Electronic Cash" procedure with the introduction of TA 7.0. (PDF; 75 kB) Technical documentation. Article No. 041400072, Version 1.0. 2007
  12. heise online: Protection against skimming: BKA demands EC cards without magnetic stripes. January 2, 2010 (accessed January 2, 2010)
  13. Regulation (EU) 2015/751 of the European Parliament and of the Council of April 29, 2015 on interchange fees for card-based payment transactions In: Official Journal of the European Union. 19th May 2015.
  14. Federal Association of German Volksbanks and Raiffeisenbanks eV Berlin: ( Page no longer available , search in web archives: special conditions for remote data transmission ) May 2002, p. 34.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /
  15. ( Page no longer available , search in web archives: specification of data formats , Annex 3 ) (PDF).@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /
  16. mik / dpa-AFX: For the first time, Germans pay more with cards than with cash. In: Spiegel Online . May 7, 2019, accessed May 14, 2020 .
  17. a b c d InterCard: EC card plus signature. ( Memento of the original from September 8, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF; 235 kB) POS-Manager Technology, issue 6/2006 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  18. a b EHI Retail Institute: graphic
  19. ^ LG Wuppertal, judgment of December 23, 1996, Az .: 14 O 113/96, NJW-RR 1998, 775