EP1166236A1 - Deferred prepayment for utility services - Google Patents

Deferred prepayment for utility services

Info

Publication number
EP1166236A1
EP1166236A1 EP20000916689 EP00916689A EP1166236A1 EP 1166236 A1 EP1166236 A1 EP 1166236A1 EP 20000916689 EP20000916689 EP 20000916689 EP 00916689 A EP00916689 A EP 00916689A EP 1166236 A1 EP1166236 A1 EP 1166236A1
Authority
EP
Grant status
Application
Patent type
Prior art keywords
electronic
purse
utility
services
prepayment
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Withdrawn
Application number
EP20000916689
Other languages
German (de)
French (fr)
Inventor
Hermanus Albertus Bos
Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.)
Merlin Gerin SA Pty Ltd
Original Assignee
Merlin Gerin SA Pty Ltd
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date

Links

Classifications

    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F7/00Mechanisms actuated by objects other than coins to free or to actuate vending, hiring, coin or paper currency dispensing or refunding apparatus
    • G07F7/08Mechanisms actuated by objects other than coins to free or to actuate vending, hiring, coin or paper currency dispensing or refunding apparatus by coded identity card or credit card or other personal identification means
    • G07F7/0866Mechanisms actuated by objects other than coins to free or to actuate vending, hiring, coin or paper currency dispensing or refunding apparatus by coded identity card or credit card or other personal identification means by active credit-cards adapted therefor
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q20/00Payment architectures, schemes or protocols
    • G06Q20/30Payment architectures, schemes or protocols characterised by the use of specific devices
    • G06Q20/34Payment architectures, schemes or protocols characterised by the use of specific devices using cards, e.g. integrated circuit [IC] cards or magnetic cards
    • G06Q20/357Cards having a plurality of specified features
    • G06Q20/3572Multiple accounts on card
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q20/00Payment architectures, schemes or protocols
    • G06Q20/30Payment architectures, schemes or protocols characterised by the use of specific devices
    • G06Q20/36Payment architectures, schemes or protocols characterised by the use of specific devices using electronic wallets or electronic money safes
    • G06Q20/363Payment architectures, schemes or protocols characterised by the use of specific devices using electronic wallets or electronic money safes with the personal data files for a user

Abstract

A system for purchasing utility services by prepayment comprises: a prepayment meter for dispensing utility services; connection means for connecting an electric purse to the prepayment meter; and a selection facility for selecting a quantity of funds available in the electronic purse to be utilised for the purchase of utility services. A processor enables the prepayment meter to dispense utility services to the value of the selected quantity of funds, to decrement a credit balance in the electronic purse by the selected quantity of funds, and to accumulate the selected quantity of funds in a storage memory in the electronic purse.

Description

DEFERRED PREPAYMENT FOR UTILITY SERVICES

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to a system for the purchase of utility services by means of prepayment and, more particularly, to a system for the purchase of utility services by means of prepayment in which payment is effected by means of an electronic purse or the like. The invention extends to a method of operation of a system for the purchase of utility services by means of prepayment.

BACKGROUND TO THE INVENTION

The purchase of utility services by means of prepayment is becoming increasingly common, particularly in rural areas and third world jurisdictions.

Generally, a system for the purchase of utility services by means of prepayment includes a prepayment meter installed in a consumer's dwelling, and a corresponding vending infrastructure. The system utilises a token to effect the transfer of data from the vending infrastructure to the consumer's prepayment meter. The token can be of various types, but is usually encoded with data representing a selected amount of credit such that, when the token is inserted into the meter, the consumer is allowed to consume utility services up to the value of the credit encoded on the token.

Such a prior art system is disadvantageous in that the consumer is required to determine in advance of such a prepayment the quantity of utility services which he wishes to purchase. The prepayment token is then encoded with the quantity of utility services desired by the consumer, with the result that the consumer lacks any flexibility to select how, how much and how often he wishes to spend on the purchase of utility services.

The use of smart cards as electronic purses is increasing in many jurisdictions. Such electronic purses allow a purchaser to make a payment for purchases from suitably equipped vendors, and for the cost of such purchases to be debited from the purchaser's electronic purse and transferred to the vendor. In order for the vendor to receive the electronic cash transferred from the purchaser's electronic purse, some interaction with a banking institution is necessary, usually via terminal equipment at the point of sale.

It is desirable to provide for the purchase of utility services by means of prepayment effected with an electronic purse at the consumer's prepayment meter itself. It will be appreciated that such a transaction cannot be completed instantaneously due to the absence of a facility to transfer funds from the electronic purse to a vendor of the utility services.

OBJECT OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of this invention to provide a system for and a method for purchasing utility services by means of prepayment directly into a prepayment meter.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with this invention there is provided a method for the purchase of utility services by prepayment, comprising the steps of: connecting an electronic purse having a credit balance to a prepayment meter for dispensing the utility services; selecting a quantity of funds available in the electronic purse to be utilised for the purchase of utility services; enabling the prepayment meter to dispense utility services to the value of the selected quantity of funds; decrementing the credit balance in the electronic purse by the selected quantity of funds; and accumulating the selected quantity of funds in a storage memory in the electronic purse.

Further features of the invention provide for the method to include the further steps of: subsequently using the electronic purse at a banking institution; crediting a vendor of the utility services with a total sum of funds accumulated in the storage memory of the electronic purse; and erasing the storage memory of the electronic purse.

Still further features of the invention provide for the method to include the still further steps of storing in the storage memory of the electronic purse metering data relating to the prepayment meter and to the purchase of utility services; transferring the metering data from the storage memory of the electronic purse to the vendor of the utility services; and erasing the metering data from the storage memory of the electronic purse.

The invention extends to a system for the purchase of utility sen/ices by prepayment with an electronic purse having a credit balance, comprising: a prepayment meter for dispensing the utility services; connection means for connecting the electronic purse to the prepayment meter; a selection facility for selecting a quantity of funds available in the electronic purse to be utilised for the purchase of utility services; and a processor arranged to enable the prepayment meter to dispense utility services to the value of the selected quantity of funds and to decrement the credit balance in the electronic purse by the selected quantity of funds and to accumulate the selected quantity of funds in a storage memory in the electronic purse.

There is further provided for the electronic purse to be subsequently usable at a banking institution; for the banking institution to credit a vendor of the utility services with a total sum of funds accumulated in the storage memory of the electronic purse and to erase the storage memory of the electronic purse.

There is further provided for the processor to also store in the storage memory of the electronic purse metering data relating to the prepayment meter and to the purchase of utility services, for the system to provide for the metering data to be transferred from the storage memory of the electronic purse to the vendor of the utility services, and for the system to also provide for the metering data to be erased from the storage memory of the electronic purse.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A preferred embodiment of the invention is described below, by way of example only, and with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG.1 is a functional block diagram of a system for the purchase of utility sen/ices by means of prepayment with an electronic purse, according to the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring to Figure 1, a system for purchasing utility services by means of prepayment with an electronic purse is indicated generally by reference numeral

(1).

The system (1) includes a prepayment meter (2) for regulating the dispensing of utility services to a consumer by a vendor thereof (not shown). The prepayment meter (2) includes a processor (not shown) and a connection means (3) in the form of a smart card reader capable of receiving a smart card-based electronic purse (4) therein. The system includes a banking terminal (5) connected to a data network of a banking institution (6). The banking terminal (5) is typically a point of sale terminal or an automated teller machine of the like. The banking institution maintains a banking account (7) belonging to the vendor (8) of the utility services. The data network of the banking institution (6) may also be connected to that of the vendor (8) of the utility services.

In use, an electronic purse (4) having a credit balance therein is inserted into the smart card reader (3) of the prepayment meter (2) when the consumer wishes to make a purchase of utility services by means of prepayment. The consumer is prompted to select a quantity of funds available in the electronic purse (4) which is to be utilised for the purchase of utility services from the vendor (8). The selection is made by the consumer by means of a selection facility (9) in the form of a key pad on the prepayment meter (2). Once the selection has been made by the consumer, the processor (not shown) enables the prepayment meter (2) to dispense utility services to the value of the quantity of funds selected by the consumer. The credit balance in the electronic purse (4) is decremented by the processor by the value of the selected quantity of funds utilised by the consumer to purchase the utility services. Further, the selected quantity of funds is accumulated in a storage memory on the electronic purse such as a dedicated register on the smart card (4).

It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the system (1) enables a consumer to effect the purchase of utility services by means of a prepayment directly into the prepayment meter (2) without the necessity of visiting a vending site belonging to the vendor of utility services. The prepayment transaction is secure as the purchase of utility services is made against a credit balance in the electronic purse (4) and the funds utilised by the consumer in making the prepayment for utility services is debited to the electronic purse and held "in reserve'' in the purse for subsequent settlement to the vendor's banking account (7) at the banking institution (6).

It will be further appreciated by those skilled in the art that the prepayment transaction described above is incomplete and will remain incomplete until settlement for the prepayment by the consumer has been made to the vendor's banking account. Settlement is made by means of a deferred transaction as will be described below. Settlement is effected at the next occasion, subsequent to the purchase of utility servicers, on which the consumer utilises the electronic purse (4) at an online banking terminal (5) of the banking institution (6). During such use, the account (7) of the vendor (8) of the utility services is credited with a total sum of funds equal to the funds accumulated in the dedicated register of the consumer's electronic purse. Once such a settlement has been made, the contents of the dedicated register of the electronic purse (4) are erased.

In this manner, the consumer is able to effect any number of discrete purchases of utility services by means of prepayment as long as the electronic purse (4) maintains a credit balance sufficient to cover the selected quantity of funds to be utilised for the purchases. Settlement for the plurality of purchases will be made in the same manner as described above.

Numerous modifications are possible to this embodiment without departing from the scope of the invention. In particular, metering data relating to the identity of the consumer prepayment meter can be stored in the storage memory in the electronic purse (4) with every prepayment made by the consumer, together with data relating to each purchase of utility services. When the electronic purse (4) is subsequently used on-line to the banking institution (6), the metering data is transferred from the purse by the banking institution to the vendor (8) of utility services as part of the settlement transaction. Such metering data may be used by the vendor of utility services for accounting and management purposes.

The invention therefore provides a simple way to enable a consumer to purchase utility services by prepayment directly at a prepayment meter and to defer settlement of the purchase transaction to a subsequent interaction of the consumer's electronic purse with a banking institution.

Claims

1. A method for the purchase of utility services by prepayment, comprising the steps of: connecting an electronic purse having a credit balance to a prepayment meter for dispensing the utility services; selecting a quantity of funds available in the electronic purse to be utilised for the purchase of utility services; enabling the prepayment meter to dispense utility services to the value of the selected quantity of funds; decrementing the credit balance in the electronic purse by the selected quantity of funds; and accumulating the selected quantity of funds in a storage memory in the electronic purse.
2. A method as claimed in claim 1 which includes the further steps of: subsequently using the electronic purse at a banking institution; crediting a vendor of the utility services with a total sum of funds accumulated in the storage memory of the electronic purse; and erasing the storage memory of the electronic purse.
3. A method as claimed in claim 1 which includes the further steps of storing in the storage memory of the electronic purse metering data relating to the prepayment meter and to the purchase of utility services; transferring the metering data from the storage memory of the electronic purse to the vendor of the utility services; and erasing the metering data from the storage memory of the electronic purse.
4. A system for the purchase of utility services by prepayment with an electronic purse having a credit balance, comprising: a prepayment meter for dispensing the utility services; connection means for connecting the electronic purse to the prepayment meter; a selection facility for selecting a quantity of funds available in the electronic purse to be utilised for the purchase of utility services; and a processor arranged to enable the prepayment meter to dispense utility services to the value of the selected quantity of funds and to decrement the credit balance in the electronic purse by the selected quantity of funds and to accumulate the selected quantity of funds in a storage memory in the electronic purse.
5. A method as claimed in claim 4 in which the electronic purse is subsequently usable at a banking institution.
6. A method as claimed in claim 5 in which the banking institution credits a vendor of the utility services with a total sum of funds accumulated in the storage memory of the electronic purse and erases the storage memory of the electronic purse.
7. A method as claimed in claim 6 in which the processor also stores in the storage memory of the electronic purse metering data relating to the prepayment meter and to the purchase of utility services.
8. A method as claimed in claim 7 in which the metering data is transferred from the storage memory of the electronic purse to the vendor of the utility services, and the metering data is erased from the storage memory of the electronic purse.
9. A method for the purchase of utility services by prepayment, substantially as herein described with reference to the accompanying drawings.
10. A system for the purchase of utility services by prepayment, substantially as herein described with reference to and as illustrated in the accompanying drawing.
EP20000916689 1999-03-26 2000-03-27 Deferred prepayment for utility services Withdrawn EP1166236A1 (en)

Priority Applications (3)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
ZA9902348 1999-03-26
ZA9902348 1999-03-26
PCT/ZA2000/000060 WO2000058919A1 (en) 1999-03-26 2000-03-27 Deferred prepayment for utility services

Publications (1)

Publication Number Publication Date
EP1166236A1 true true EP1166236A1 (en) 2002-01-02

Family

ID=25587647

Family Applications (1)

Application Number Title Priority Date Filing Date
EP20000916689 Withdrawn EP1166236A1 (en) 1999-03-26 2000-03-27 Deferred prepayment for utility services

Country Status (2)

Country Link
EP (1) EP1166236A1 (en)
WO (1) WO2000058919A1 (en)

Families Citing this family (1)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
FR2834408B1 (en) 2001-12-28 2008-05-30 Roiret Entpr S electronic system of information management and product distribution (s) and / or service (s) network (s).

Family Cites Families (5)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
EP0762350A3 (en) * 1995-09-08 1998-08-05 Sinesonics (Proprietary) Limited Communal metering system
EP0784301B1 (en) * 1996-01-08 2002-10-16 Jürgen Dethloff Method and system for the payment of services and portable data carrier to be used in such a system
DE19604691A1 (en) * 1996-02-09 1997-08-14 Sel Alcatel Ag Chip card, method and system for using fee-based services
GB9708991D0 (en) * 1997-05-03 1997-06-25 Plessey Telecomm Electronic purse
NL1006792C2 (en) * 1997-08-18 1999-02-22 Gastec Nv System for distribution and payment of utilities.

Non-Patent Citations (1)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Title
See references of WO0058919A1 *

Also Published As

Publication number Publication date Type
WO2000058919A1 (en) 2000-10-05 application

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