WO2001022333A9 - Electronic prefunded purchasing unit account funding network and method - Google Patents

Electronic prefunded purchasing unit account funding network and method

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Publication number
WO2001022333A9
WO2001022333A9 PCT/US2000/026169 US0026169W WO2001022333A9 WO 2001022333 A9 WO2001022333 A9 WO 2001022333A9 US 0026169 W US0026169 W US 0026169W WO 2001022333 A9 WO2001022333 A9 WO 2001022333A9
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WO
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Application
Patent type
Prior art keywords
user
ru
epuc
transaction
poft
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/US2000/026169
Other languages
French (fr)
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WO2001022333A1 (en )
Original Assignee
Perez Luis Andres
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Publication date

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Classifications

    • 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
    • G06Q30/00Commerce, e.g. shopping or e-commerce
    • G06Q30/06Buying, selling or leasing transactions

Abstract

A network funding system includes at least one point of funding terminal (16) for operation by the distribution merchant, at least one buyer computer (11) for operation by a user desiring to purchase a web hosted product, a host computer (19) which provides access to a proprietary website, at least one affiliated merchant computer (15) to display merchandise to the registered user, and at least one payment computer.

Description

ELECTRONIC PREFUNDED PURCHASING UNIT ACCOUNT FUNDING

NETWORK AND METHOD

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION The Internet, sometimes simply called "the Net", was created in the late 1960s.

It is a vast worldwide system of computer networks consisting of many smaller networks. It was conceived by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) of the U.S. Government and was first known as the ARPAnet. The original aims included facilitating research at universities by allowing their computers to communicate directly with one another and national defense.

With the advent of the World Wide Web, Internet use has grown exponentially, and tens of millions of users ranging from individuals to corporations now use the Internet for business, communication, entertainment, and leisure. Users access the Internet through permanent and dialup connections on a daily basis worldwide. The computers or networks of computers connected within the Internet, known as "hosts," allow controlled public access to databases featuring information in nearly every field of expertise and are supported by entities ranging from universities and government to many commercial organizations.

Commercial applications on the Internet are now by far the largest growing use of the Internet. Words like "portal," "hot links, " "e-mail, " "e-tailing," and e- commerce form part of the new common language of the Internet. E-commerce (electronic commerce or EC), or e-business, is the buying and selling of goods and services on the Internet. For online retail selling, the term e-tailing is sometimes used. As a place for direct retail shopping, with its 24-hour availability, a global reach, the ability to interact and provide custom information and ordering, the Web is rapidly becoming a multibillion dollar source of revenue for the world's businesses. A number of businesses already report considerable success. As early as the middle of 1997, Dell Computers reported orders of over $1,000,000 per day. By early 1999, projected e-commerce revenues for business were in the billions and the stocks of companies deemed most adept at e-commerce were skyrocketing. Apart from computer and network products, books, music, garden supplies, pet supplies, office supplies were but a few of the better-known e-commerce sites. By early 1999, even businesses that have always counted on face-to-face customer interaction were planmng e-commerce Web sites and many businesses were planning how to coordinate in-store and Web store retail approaches. Meanwhile, new businesses based entirely on Web sales were being invented daily. As e-commerce seeks to capitalize on the inherent advantages of the Internet, many types of e-commerce systems have been developed. However, because of the nature of the of the Internet, only those persons with access to credit, charge, debit and stored value cards can take advantage of the benefits and efficiencies of e-commerce. Credit cards are the dominant method of payment for goods and services on the Internet. In 1998, credit cards accounted for 95% of all Internet sales. While there have been some attempts to make Internet commerce available to persons without credit, charge or debit cards, these attempts have been for the most part unsuccessful because they do not offer either the consumer or the merchant delivering the product or service with the ease of use and efficiency that the Internet is designed to deliver. One significant reason that e-commerce has not yet taken off to its full potential is that there has not been a widely available tamper proof method of preventing fraud and theft of sensitive financial information that is transmitted on the Internet. Security for Internet applications is defined as the protection of network connected resources against unauthorized disclosure, modification, utilization, restriction, incapacitation, or destruction. Security has always been a concern for both data processing systems and communication facilities. With the advent of open computer networks, these concerns are now jointly shared.

On a more basic level, e-merchants have discovered that far too many credit card numbers used were canceled, stolen, over the limit, or just plain fictitious. Credit card fraud is far more common on the web than it is in the "Bricks and Mortar" environment. Merchants need to find a way to reduce the number of "bad" transactions that they are processing. Consumers need to assure themselves that they are not undertaking additional risks by conducting e-commerce on the web.

For consumer and merchants to be able to trust one another in the conduct of e- commerce, issues involving the integrity of payment information and verification of authenticity of the account holder must be addressed Further, the following transaction processes must take place: Account holder registration

Account holder funding Merchant registration Account holder ordering Payment authorization to merchant Payment processing to merchant

The present invention addresses these needs for the account holder and the Affiliated Merchant by providing a system for those without access to the traditional methods of payment to engage in e-commerce on the Internet while meeting concerns about the security shortcomings of the existing e-tail e-commerce systems.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a network funding system that includes at least one point of funding terminal for operation by the distribution merchant, at least one buyer computer for operation by a user desiring to purchase a web hosted product, a host computer which provides access to a proprietary website, a host funding computer that manages registered user funding accounts, at least one affiliated merchant computer to display merchandise to the registered user, and at least one payment computer. The point of funding terminal, the buyer computer, the host computer, the host funding computer, the merchant computer, and the payment computer are interconnected by a computer network.

The point of funding terminal is programmed with control logic to recognize the magnetic strip on a plastic data card as identified with a specific registered user; to create for the benefit of the registered user electronic prefunded purchasing units in exchange for a unit of legal tender; and to cause an exchange transaction message along with other transaction data to be sent to the host funding computer via telephone lines. The host funding computer is programmed with control logic to receive the exchange transaction message from the point of funding terminal; to authenticate the registered user; to cause an exchange transaction entry to be made to a specific registered user's on-line prefunded purchases account; to cause an authentication and encrypted alphanumeric control code message to be created and sent to the point of funding machine along with other transaction control data. The point of funding terminal is programmed with control logic to receive the authentication message, encrypted alphanumeric control code, transaction control data, and to send this data to the interior printer for printing on a receipt to authenticate to the registered user that the exchange transaction has been duly recorded and completed. At the close of the business cycle for the day, the host automated clearinghouse computer, prepares the legal tender transfer packets and initiates the bank transfer procedures to transfer the legal tender from the distributor merchant bank account to the Host's bank account. The electronic prefunded purchasing units are recorded in the registered user's on-line prefunded purchase account which is controlled by the host funding computer and which will be used to control the amount of available electronic prefunded purchasing units that will be utilized as the medium of exchange by the registered user with an affiliated merchant computer and the affiliated merchant transaction computer. The registered user will access the Affiliated Merchant web site via hyperlinks located on the Host proprietary web server computer.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention is pointed out with particularity in the appended claims. The above and further advantages of this invention may be better understood by referring to the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of an electronic prepaid purchasing unit account funding network of the invention;

FIG. 2 is a flow diagram of a process of the invention for exchanging legal tender for electronic prepaid purchasing units;

FIG. 3 is a flow diagram of a process of the invention for non registered user exchanges of legal tender for electronic prepaid purchasing units; FIG. 4 is a flow diagram of a process of the invention for registered user exchanges of legal tender for electronic prepaid purchasing units without the use of a registered user card;

FIG. 5 is a flow diagram of a process of the invention for a registered user exchanges legal tender for electronic prepaid purchasing units using a registered user card;

FIG. 6 is a flow diagram of a process of the invention for registered user purchases of goods or services using a registered user card;

FIG. 7 is a flow diagram of a process of the invention for canceling an exchange or legal tender into electronic prepaid purchasing units transaction;

FIG. 8 is a flow diagram of a process of the invention for canceling a distributor merchant goods point of purchase transaction;

FIG. 9 is a flow diagram of a process of the invention for user access to an electronic prepaid purchasing unit web server computer; FIG. 10 is a flow diagram of a process of the invention for access to an on-line electronic prepaid purchasing unit account;

FIG. 11 is a flow diagram of a process of the invention for access to a registered user's only area and for registering an electronic prepaid purchasing unit receipt;

FIG. 12 is a flow diagram of a process of the invention for a non registered user to become a registered user;

FIG. 13 is a flow diagram of a process of the invention for registered user access to an on-line shopping mall and affiliated merchant store fronts;

FIG. 14 is a flow diagram of a process of the invention for displaying an affiliated merchant web store's shopping cart; FIG. 15 is a flow diagram of a process of the invention for editing an order in an affiliated merchant shopping cart;

FIG. 16 is a flow diagram of a process of the invention for a registered user completing an on-line purchase transaction with an affiliated merchant; and

FIG. 17 is a flow diagram of a process of the invention for nightly settlement between the electronic prepaid purchasing unit computer, host automated clearing house computer, and the automated clearing house network. DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The invention provides an Electronic Prepaid Purchasing Unit Account Funding Network (EPUNET) used for converting a unit of legal tender to an Electronic Prepaid Purchasing Unit (EPU) in order to facilitate and permit electronic retail, or "e-tail" transactions on the Internet via telecommunication networks without the use of credit, charge, debit, or stored value cards. The invention will permit a Registered User (RU) and a selected Affiliated Merchant (AM) to undertake e-tail transactions on the Internet utilizing the inherent advantages of EPUNET without the fears of exposing themselves to the financial risks and loss of privacy issues associated with using credit, charge, and debit cards on the Internet.

The system and method of the invention provide a variety of benefits to merchants as well as to the shoppers who use the system. A retail exchange unit, useful with the invention to convert legal tender into EPUs, when strategically placed through designated channels of distribution at selected Exchange or Distributor Merchants (DM) locations, will increase foot traffic at those locations. An e-tail portal used with the invention, when strategically placed on selected web portals, will increase "visits" and increase the length of browse time, often called "stickiness," at the selected web portal. The invention when used by the selected Affiliated Merchant, through heightened e- commerce traffic through the selected web portal, will substantially increase the amount of e-tail business conducted.

A network of the invention for providing an electronic prefunded (the terms "prepaid" and "prefunded" are used interchangeably herein) purchasing unit account is illustrated in FIG. 1. Table 1 below provides a key to the acronyms used herein and in the Figures. An exemplary EPUNET 6 includes an Electronic Prepaid Purchasing

Computer (EPUC) 18 containing control logic to implement the functioning of the EPUNET and including databases storing the account, configuration, routing, transaction, and other information necessary to implement the EPUNET functions. In general, EPUC 18 processes, stores, controls and settles funded prepaid purchase transactions. An Electronic Prepaid Purchasing Unit Web Site Computer (EPUWC) 13 provides an interface between EPUNET 6 and the Internet and acts as an e-tail portal, that is, Internet shoppers may visit the EPUWC for links to affiliated merchants who accept EPUs and other e-tail sites of interest. A Host Automated Clearing House Computer (HACHC) 19 controls all Automated Clearing House (ACH) transactions. A person of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that the EPUNET 6 of FIG. 1 could be implemented by providing the described functionality on a single physical computer, or by implementing the functionality on any number of networked computers. In general, the elements included in EPUNET 6 are under the control of an EPUNET operator and are provided within the protection of a firewall or other means to protect the security of the information and transaction processing within the EPUNET.

Table 1

The exemplary system of FIG. 1 further includes at least one Point of Funding Electronic Prepaid Purchasing Unit Terminal (POFT) 16 in communication with EPUNET 6 and physically located at a selected Distributor Merchant (DM) place of business. A high speed modem embedded into the POFT 16 permits access to a telecommunications network 7 through which the communications with the EPUNET 6 can be made. Exemplary programmable devices useful as POFT 16 include the Omni™ series of transaction systems available from VeriFone, Inc.

The POFT 16 can be programmed with control logic to recognize the magnetic strip on a plastic data card as identified with a specific registered user; to create for the benefit of the registered user EPUs in exchange for a unit of legal tender (for example, in the United States one dollar can equal one EPU); and to cause an exchange transaction message along with other transaction data to be sent to the EPUC 18 using a public telecom network such as by ordinary telephone lines. The EPUC 18 can then be programmed with control logic to receive the exchange transaction message; to authenticate the registered user; to cause an exchange transaction entry to be made to a specific registered user's On-line Prepaid Purchases Account (OPPA); to cause an authentication and encrypted alphanumeric control code message to be created and sent to the POFT 16 along with other transaction control data. The EPUs are recorded in the registered user's OPPA which is controlled by the EPUC 18 and which will be used to control the amount of available EPUs that can be utilized as a medium of exchange by a registered user to conduct and settle e-tail transactions.

The POFT 16 can further be programmed with control logic to receive the authentication message, encrypted alphanumeric control code, transaction control data, and to send this data to an internal or connected printer for printing on a receipt to authenticate to the registered user that the transaction (exchange of legal tender for EPUs) has been duly recorded and completed.

The EPUs are recorded in the registered user's OPPA which is controlled by the EPUC and which will be used to control the amount of available EPUs that will be utilized as the medium of exchange by the registered user to conduct and settle e-tail with selected Affiliated Merchants. Host Automated Clearing House Computer (HACHC) 19 initiates, processes and controls the automatic transfer of legal tender from the DM bank account to the Host's bank account using the Central Automated Clearing House (ACH) 8 system run by the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States. Affiliated Merchants who accept EPUs as currency for e-tail transactions will generally have an Affiliated Merchant Web Site Computer (AMWC) 17 and an Affiliated Merchant Transaction Computer (AMTC) 15. AMWC 17 displays goods and services available for purchase using EPUs and can be accessed by registered users via links located on the host EPUWC 13. AMTC 15 handles the transactional aspects of e-tail and settles transactions with the EPUC 18. In one embodiment, EPUWC 13 is the only web site through which EPUs can be used to transact e-tail with the selected AMWC 17.

A home or office based Registered User Personal Computer (RUPC) 11 or Non- Registered User Personal Computer (NRUPC) 9 originates the e-tail e-commerce transaction at the direction of a user, for example, by visiting EPUWC 13 and following a link to an AMWC 17. RUPC 11 and NRUPC 9 can be ordinary personal computers connected to the Internet in any manner and running a browser to visit web sites, or can be any other means used by individuals to access sites on the Web. Once at the desired AMWC 17, the user may select products or services to buy from the

Affiliated Merchant. Processing of the user's transaction is then managed by AMTC 15 and EPUC 18.

The following description and accompanying flow charts relate in detail the flow of information and processes utilized to accomplish the objectives of the invention, and further describes the functionality of the exemplary network described above. Exchanging Legal Tender for Electronic Prepaid Purchasing Units (FIG. 2):

Registered User (RU) / Non Registered User (NRU) visits 20 a Distributor Merchant (DM)'s brick and mortar store that distributes goods and/or services and exchanges legal tender for Electronic Prepaid Purchasing Unit (EPU). Processing proceeds as follows:

22. While inside of brick and mortar store Distributor Merchant Employee (DME) processes RU/NRU's order. If user is not a RU 24 then GOTO 26 (FIG. 3), Non Registered User (NRU) Exchanges Legal Tender for Electronic Prepaid Purchasing Units. If user is a RU but does not have their Registered User Card (RUC) 100 then GOTO 102 (FIG.4) Registered User Exchanges Legal

Tender for EPUs without the Use of RUC. If RU is carrying their RUC then GOTO 200. 200. If RU wants to exchange legal tender for EPU using their RUC card then GOTO 202 (FIG. 5). If RU wants to purchase goods and/or services using their RUC then GOTO 302 (FIG.6). A RU who has their RUC can purchase any combination of goods and services in which the total of the purchase measured in legal tender is equal to or less than the amount of EPUs in the RU's On-line Pre-Paid Purchasing Account (OPPA).

Non Registered User Exchanges Legal Tender for Electronic Prepaid Purchasing Units

(FIG. 3):

After a Non Registered User enters a Distributor Merchant (DM) location, the NRU hands to the Distributor Merchant Employee (DME) the amount of legal tender that they wish to convert to Electronic Pre-Paid Purchasing Units (EPUs). The DME determines if amount of legal tender is sufficient to meet the minimum required amount of exchange for EPUs. A minimum about of legal tender that can be established for exchange, e.g., ten US dollars. If minimum is met, the DME completes a normal DM transaction at the DM's cash register for the amount of legal tender to be exchanged for EPUs, whereby a Cash Register Receipt (CRR) is produced and dispensed. For security reasons, the DME may be required to enter a DME ID #28 into the Point of

Funding Terminal (POFT) 16 in order to receive authorized access into the POFT 16. Authorized access is designated by an "OK" 29 displayed in a Liquid Crystal Display that is located on the face of the POFT 16. The DME then selects the Non Registered User (NRU) key 30 on the POFT 16. This key action will allow the POFT 16 to notify the Electronic Pre-Paid Purchasing Unit Control Computer (EPUC) 18 that the information that it will be subsequently sending, through an electronic network, is a non registered user converting legal tender to EPUs and that any corresponding codes should be encrypted as such. Processing proceeds as follows: 32. The DME keys in the unit amount of the legal tender to be exchanged into the

POFT 16. The DME selects the ENTER button 34 on the POFT 16. 36. POFT 16 determines if the amount of legal tender received from NRU is less than the minimum required amount of exchange.

38. If the amount of legal tender is sufficient, the POFT 16 dials 38 via telephone lines to the server designated as the EPUC 18. The POFT 16 transmits 40 the information associated with the current transaction, including user designation as a NRU, to the EPUC 18. 42. EPUC 18 is prompted to access a database designated as the Active Holding

Account (AHA). 44. The EPUC 18 creates a Non Registered User Alpha Numeric Encrypted Code

(NRAEC) that is specific to the exchange transaction. The NRAEC is submitted 46 to the AHA database and the transaction is recorded to the Unregistered Electronic PrePaid Purchasing Unit Receipt (EPUR) file.

48. The EPUC 18 flags the newly created record as "on-hold" for a specified amount of time in order to ensure that all changes or corrections to the record can be recorded in the AHA database rather than other database records.

After a specified amount of time, the EPUC 18 removes 49 the flag from the record in the AHA. The EPUC 18 communicates back 50 to the transmission originating POFT 16 via telephone lines. 52. The POFT 16 displays a Transaction Complete Message. The POFT 16 downloads the transaction authorization information sent by the EPUC 18.

Once the POFT 16 receives and interprets the transmission from the EPUC 18, the POFT 16 prints 54 the information on an EPUR, which is dispensed from the POFT 16. The printed information includes the words "Bearer ",

NRAEC, and amount of legal tender that was exchanged. 56. The receipt is reviewed by the DME to determine that the amount collected matches the amount printed on the EPUR. If it does not, the DME must execute POFT 16 error handling process. Correct EPUR and dispensed CRR are given to the NRU. The process then ends 60. 62. If minimum amount of legal tender is not sufficient from Step 36, POFT 16 rejects the transaction. POFT 16 displays a message 64 that amount entered is lower than minimum required amount.

66. DME returns legal tender to NRU.

68. If NRU wishes to continue with EPU exchange, GOTO 26. The process then ends 70.

Registered User Exchanges Legal Tender for Electronic Prepaid Purchasing Units without the use of Registered user Card (FIG. 4):

102. Registered User enters DM facility to exchange legal tender for EPUs. At this point the registered user informs the DME that they do not have their

Registered User Card (RUC). The registered user hands the amount of legal tender that they wish to convert to EPUs to the DME. The DME determines if amount of legal tender is sufficient to meet the n inimum required amount of exchange for EPUs. 104. If the minimum is met, the DME completes a normal DM transaction at the

DM cash register for the amount of legal tender to be exchanged for EPUs, whereby a CRR is produced and dispensed. The DME enters their DME ID # into the POFT 16 in order to receive authorized access into the POFT 16, and selects the ENTER key. 105. Authorized access is designated by an "OK" displayed in the LCD (Liquid

Crystal Display) that is located on the face of the POFT 16 above the numeric keypad. 106. The DME then selects the Registered User Without Card (RUWC) key on the

POFT 16. This key action will allow the POFT 16 to notify the EPUC 18 that the information that it will be subsequently transmitting, through an electronic network, is a RUWC converting legal tender to EPUs and that any corresponding codes should be encrypted as such. 108. The DME keys in the unit amount of the legal tender to be exchanged into the

POFT 16. 110. The DME selects the ENTER button on the POFT 16. 112. POFT 16 determines if amount of legal tender is less than the minimum required amount of exchange.

114. If in Step 112, the amount of legal tender is sufficient, the POFT 16 dials via telephone lines to the server designated as the EPUC 18. 116. The POFT 16 transmits the information associated with the current transaction, including user designation as a RUWC type, to the EPUC 18. 118. EPUC 18 is prompted to access the database designated as the Active Holding

Account (AHA) table. 120. The EPUC 18 creates a Registered User No Card Alpha Numeric Encrypted

Code (RNCAEC) that is specific to the exchange transaction. 122. The RNCAEC is submitted to the AHA database and the transaction is recorded in the Unregistered EPUR file.

124. The EPUC 18 flags the newly created record as "on-hold" for a specified amount of time in order to ensure that all changes or corrections to the record can be recorded in the AHA database rather than in other database records.

125. After a specified amount of time, the EPUC 18 removes the flag from the record in the AHA. 126. The EPUC 18 communicates back to the transmission originating POFT 16 via telephone lines. 128. The POFT 16 displays a Transaction Complete Message. The POFT 16 downloads the transaction authorization information sent by the EPUC 18.

130. Once the POFT 16 receives and interprets the transmission from the EPUC

18, the POFT 16 prints the information on an EPUR which is dispensed from the POFT 16. The printed information includes the words "Bearer ", RNCAEC, and amount of legal tender that was exchanged. 56. The receipt is reviewed by the DME to determine that the amounts collected matches the amount printed on the EPUR. If it does not, the DME must execute POFT 16 error handling process. 134. Correct EPUR and dispensed CRR are given to the NRU. The process then ends 136. 138. If Prompt 112 is No, the DME rejects the transaction and asks NRU if they would like to continue with the EPU exchange 140. POFT 16 displays message that amount entered is lower than minimum required amount. 142. DME returns legal tender to NRU. 144. If NRU wishes to continue with EPU exchange, GOTO 102. The process otherwise ends 146.

Registered User Exchanges Legal Tender for Electronic Prepaid Purchasing Units using

Registered User Card (FIG. 5):

202. Registered User enters DM facility to exchange legal tender for EPUs. The registered user hands to the DME both the amount of legal tender that they wish to convert to EPUs and their Registered User Card (RUC), a registered user plastic magnetic strip card) that has registered user specific information on the face and encrypted registered user specific account information on the magnetic strip located on the back of the card. The DME determines if amount of legal tender is sufficient to meet the minimum required amount of exchange for EPUs. The minimum about of legal tender that can be exchanged is ten US dollars.

204. If the dollar amount is sufficient, the DME completes a normal DM transaction at the DM cash register for the amount of legal tender to be exchanged for EPUs, whereby a CRR is produced and dispensed. The DME enters their DME ID # into the POFT 16 in order to receive authorized access into the POFT 16, and selects the ENTER key.

205. Authorized access is designated by an "OK" displayed in the LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) that is located on the face of the POFT 16 above the numeric keypad. 206. The DME then swipes the RUC through the POFT 16. The magnetic strip on the RUC will allow the POFT 16 to notify the EPUC 18 that the information that it will be subsequently transmitting, through an electronic network, is a RU converting legal tender to EPUs and that any corresponding codes should be encrypted as such. 208. The DME keys in the unit amount of the legal tender to be exchanged into the

POFT 16. 210. The DME selects the ENTER button on the POFT 16.

212. The POFT 16 determines if the amount of legal tender is less than the minimum required amount of exchange. 214. If in Step 212, the amount of legal tender is more than the required imnimum amount of legal exchange, the POFT 16 dials via telephone lines to the server designated as the EPUC 18.

216. The POFT 16 transmits the information associated with the current transaction, including user designation as a RU type with a RUC, to the EPUC

18. 218. EPUC 18 is prompted to access the database designated as the Active Holding Account (AHA). Within the AHA are account tables that are linked to individual account tables. 220. The EPUC 18 creates a Registered User Alpha Numeric Encrypted Code

(RAEC) that is specific to the exchange transaction.

222. The RAEC is recorded to the AHA database is created and the transaction is recorded.

223. The EPUC 18 flags the newly created record as "on-hold" for a specified amount of time in order to ensure that all changes or corrections to the record can be recorded in the AHA database rather than in other database records. After a specified amount of time, the EPUC 18 removes the flag 224 from the record in the AHA. The EPUC 18 transfers the record 225 from the AHA to the individual account database. 226. The EPUC 18 communicates back to the transmission originating POFT 16 via telephone lines. 228. The POFT 16 displays a Transaction Complete Message. The POFT 16 downloads the transaction authorization information sent by the EPUC 18.

230. Once the POFT 16 receives and interprets the transmission from the EPUC 18, the POFT 16 prints the information on an Electronic PrePaid Purchasing Unit Receipt (EPUR) which is dispensed from the POFT 16. The printed information includes the RAEC and amount of legal tender that was exchanged. 56. The receipt is reviewed by the DME to determine that the amounts collected matches the amount printed on the EPUR. If it does not, the DME must execute POFT 16 error handling process. 234. Correct EPUR and dispensed CRR are given to the NRU. The process then ends. 238. If Prompt 212 is Yes, the DME rejects the transaction and asks NRU if they would like to continue with the EPU exchange.

240. POFT 16 displays message that amount entered is lower than minimum required amount. 242. DME returns legal tender to NRU.

244. If NRU wishes to continue with EPU exchange, GOTO 102. The process then ends 246.

Registered User Purchases Good and/or Services Using Registered User Card (FIG. 6): The registered user enters a DM location to purchase goods and/or services using their RUC. The DME enters the purchase into the into their DM cash register from which a (CRR) will be produced and dispensed. The DME enters their DME ID

#302 into the POFT 16 and selects the ENTER key.

304. The DME swipes the RUC in the appropriate slot on the POFT16. This activates the POFT 16 and identifies the transaction to a specific DME, DM location, and registered user. 305. The DME awaits for authorized access into the POFT 16 which will be designated by an "OK" displayed in the LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) that is located on the face of the POFT 16 above the numeric keypad. The DME keys in the legal tender amount of the purchase and selects the ENTER key. 306. The DME selects the Distributor Merchant Goods/Services (DMG) key 308. This key action will allow the POFT 16 to notify the EPUC 18 that the information that it will be subsequently transmitting, through an electronic network, is associated with a RU who is purchasing goods and or services using their RUC at a distributor merchant. 310. The DME selects the ENTER key. The POFT 16 dials 312 the EPUC 18. 314. The POFT 16 transmits all information related to the DMG transaction to

EPUC 18 via telephone line. 316. The EPUC 18 accesses the On-line Pre-Paid Purchasing Server (OPPS) database designated as the OPPS, and is connected to the On-line Pre-Paid

Purchasing Account (OPPA) of the RU. 318. The EPUC 18 executes the process to determine authentication. 320. EPUC 18 determines if transaction in authorized. 322. EPUC 18 authorizes transaction by the creation of a Point of Purchase

Alphanumeric Encrypted Code (PPAEC). 324. The EPUC 18 debits registered users OPPA for the amount of the transaction and records the transaction to the RU's OPPA. 326. The EPUC 18 communicates via telephone line back to the transmission originating POFT 16. The POFT 16 downloads the transaction authorization information sent by the EPUC 18. 328. The POFT 16 displays an Authorization Approved message. 330. The POFT 16 prints the PPAEC on a Point-of-Purchase receipt (PPR) The

PPR is reviewed by the DME to determine that the amount distributed matches the amount printed on the PPR. If it does not, the DME must execute DMG

POFT 16 error handling process 331. 332. The DME places PPR in the cash register to support sales made using EPUS. 334. The DME returns the RUC to the RU along with the CRR and DMGs. The process then ends 336.

Process for Canceling the Exchange of Legal Tender into Electronic Prepaid

Purchasing Units Transaction (FIG. 7):

56. From process 54, 130, 230, and 330 the POFT 16 prints a receipt with an

Alphanumeric Encrypted Code (AEC) on a the face. The receipt is either a Electronic Prepaid Purchasing Unit Receipt (EPUR) or a Point of Purchase

Receipt (PPR). 56.02 At the end of every POFT 16 transaction the DME must manually check the EPUR or PPR versus the CRR for accuracy.

56.04 DME deteirnines whether or not there is a difference between the amount tendered or debited and the amount on the EPUR or PPR.

56.05 When an error occurs the DME is instructed to undertake POFT 16 transaction error handling procedures. If the amounts on either the EPUR or

PPR do not match then the DME determines whether the receipt is a EPUR or PPR. If a PPR, process goes to 331.02 (FIG. 8). 56.07 The DME must determme whether the EPUs required are in excess of amount collected. 56.08 If the amount of EPUs are less than the amount requested the DME uses the

POFT 16 to correct the error. The DME must first enter their DME ID# into the POFT 16 and then press enter key. The DME then awaits for access into the system. The DME will know they have access when the prompt "Ready" is displayed on the LCD located on the face of the POFT 16. 56.10 If the error was done for a RU the DME swipes RUC through POFT 16. If the error was done for a NRU the DME presses the appropriate key on the POFT 16. 56.12 DME enters the amount of legal tender, which is the difference between the actual amount of the transaction and the amount the purchaser requested, into POFT 16.

56.14 DME determines whether the amount in 56.12 is less than the minimum required transaction amount. 56.16 If the amount in step 56.12 is less than the minimum transaction amount the DME presses the override function key on POFT 16. 56.18 DME presses the enter key on the POFT 16 after both step 56.14 and 56.16.

After such step, transaction process goes to 38 (FIG. 3), 114 (FIG. 4), 214 (FIG. 5), or 312 (FIG. 6) as appropriate depending on the status of the user and whether the user has a registration card. 56.20 At 56.07, if it is determined that the EPU amount requested is in excess of amount collected the DME must first enter their DME ID# into the POFT 16 and press enter key. The DME then awaits for access into the system. The DME will know they have access when the prompt "Ready" is displayed on the LCD located on the face of the POFT 16. 56.22 After DME has received POFT 16 user authorization they press the "Cancel

EPU" button on the POFT 16. 56.24 DME enters associated AEC to be cancelled into POFT 16 and presses enter. 56.26 POFT 16 dials EPUC 18 to initiate cancel EPU transaction.

56.28 EPUC 18 searches AHA for transaction associated with associated AEC.

56.30 EPUC 18 determines whether transaction found.

56.32 If transaction is not found the EPUC 18 transmit an error message to the

POFT 16. 56.34 If transaction is found the EPUC 18 flags the transaction in the AHA and cancels the transaction and associated AEC. 56.36 The cancelled transaction is then moved to the Cancelled Transaction Account

(CTA) within the EPUC 18. 56.38 The EPUC 18 transmits a "Cancelled" transaction message and Electronic Prepaid Purchasing Unit Receipt Credit (EPURC) to the POFT.

56.40 POFT 16 prints EPURC and Electronic Prepaid Purchasing Unit Receipt

Credit Alphanumeric Encrypted Code (EPURCEAC). 56.42 DME examines both the EPUR and EPURC and compares them to the CRR.

Both the EPUR and EPURC are stored in DM's cash register for regular in- store cash register balancing.

56.44 Purchaser can then leave DM with purchases.

56.46 If the amounts of either the EPUR or PPR match the CRR, then the DME has made the correct POFT 16 transaction. DME hands EPUR or PPR to the RU or the EPUR to the NRU and always includes the CRR. 56.48 Purchaser can leave DM having completed a correct transaction.

Process of Canceling Distributor Merchant Goods/service Point of Purchase

Transaction: (FIG. 8)

331. At the end of every POFT 16 transaction the DME must determine that a correct transaction has been processed through the POFT 16. If, after examining and comparing customer CRR versus a POFT 16 receipt, an error has occurred, the DME is instructed to undertake proper POFT 16 error handling procedures. 331.02 DME begins the proper POFT 16 error handling procedures by first entering their DME ID number into the POFT 16 and presses enter. 331.04 After the proper DME ID has been entered a "OK" will show in the LCD on the face of the POFT 16.

331.06 After access to POFT16 has been granted, DME swipes RUC through POFT

16 and awaits signal that RUC has been read correctly. 331.08 DME presses "DMG Credit" key on POFT 16.

331.10 DME enters the printed Point of Purchase Alphanumeric Encrypted Code (PPAEC) to be cancelled that is located on the front side of the Point of

Purchase Receipt (PPR). DME then presses the enter key on the POFT 16. 331.12 POFT 16 dials EPUC 18 to initiate PPR cancel routine. 331.14 EPUC 18 accesses RU's OPPA file 331.16 EPUC 18 performs search for RU's OPPA file for PPAEC. 331.18 EPUC 18 determines whether transaction found.

331.20 If in step 331.18 file not found then an error message returned to POFT 16 via

EPUC 18. 331.22 If in 331.18 transaction is found then EPUC 18 executes authorization process. 331.24 EPUC 18 determines whether transaction in authorized.

331.26 If transaction is not authorized, the EPUC 18 transmits message to POFT 16 that authorization has not been granted.

331.28 DME informs RU that transaction authorization has been denied.

331.29 DME attempts to cancel transaction again. If this is the third time that DME has attempted to cancel transaction then they must inform RU that the POFT

16 is unable to cancel the transaction. The DME then informs the RU that they should contact customer service. The process then ends 331.30. 331.32 If at step 331.24 transaction is authorized then EPUC 18 creates PPCAEC. 331.34 After creating EPURC, the EPUC 18 records credit transaction in RU's On- line Prepaid Purchasing Account (OPPA).

331.36 EPUC 18 transmits approval authorization reply to POFT 16.

331.38 POFT 16 displays in the LCD that credit to RU's OPPA has been completed for the amount requested.

331.40 POFT 16 prints Point of Purchase Receipt Credit (PPRC) with Point of

Purchase Credit Alphanumeric Encrypted Code (PPCAEC) which is cross- referenced to PPR's PPAEC.

331.42 DME attaches PPRC to PPR and stores PPRC and PPR in cash register for support of transaction for end of day cash register balancing procedures.

331.44 DME hands back to RU their RUC and also the CRR for proof of credit transaction.

331.46 Transaction complete .

Registered User/Non Registered User Access to Electronic Prepaid Purchasing Unit Web Server Computer (FIG. 9):

NRU/RU logs onto the Web through their Non Registered User/Registered User Personal Computer (NRU/RU PC) 11. With in the browser being utilized, the RU requests the Electronic Prepaid Purchasing Unit Computer's (EPUWC) 13 home page by entering the proper Uniform Resources Locator (URL) 400 also known as a Web address. The EPUWC is located on the Electronic Prepaid Purchasing Unit Account Funding Network (EPUNET) 10.

402. NRU/RU PC transmits request to the EPUWC 13 to retrieve Web address file(s). EPUWC receives request from the NRU/RU PC 11 to retrieve

EPUWC 13 home page address file 404. 406. The EPUWC transmits the EPUWC home page address to the NRU/RU PC

11. After home page has been loaded, the user is prompted to pick whether they want access to either the NRU's pages (step 408), RU's pages (step 410), or would the user like to exchange credit/debit card tender for EPUs (step

409).

If the user requests access to the NRU's pages within the Website, the user is prompted to choose between accessing the NRU's registration page (step 412), or accessing the NRU's information Website page (step 414), both of which are located on the EPUWC 13.

414. After NRU has selected the NRU registration page, they then GOTO process

520 (FIG. 12) within the site located on the EPUWC 13. After NRU has selected the NRU information page they then GOTO 416 within the site located on the EPUWC 13. On the information pages, the NRU is asked to register a new registered user account and OPPA (412). If NRU reviews the information pages and then decide to create RU account then GOTO 520. 418. If NRU decides not to register than they are returned back to the site's home page located on the EPUWC 13.

At a prompt at step 406, RU 410 chooses to access the RU pages located on the EPUWC. After choosing RU pages the RU is user is prompted as to whether or not they want to gain access to the RU's account information Web pages (step 420), access to shopping mall Web pages (step 422), or access to customer service assistance (step

424).

Access to On-line Electronic Prepaid Purchasing Unit Account (FIG. 10):

420.02 After RU has requested access to their on-line electronic prepaid purchasing unit account the RU is sent to step 420.02. At this step, the RU will need to enter their secure user id and secure password.

420.03 Once an access request to the on-line electronic prepaid purchasing unit account has been made the RUPC 11 requests the RU's account page from the EPUWC 13. 420.04 The EPUWC then requests the RU's account from the EPUC 18.

420.06 At this step, the EPUC 18 locates the RU's account information that is tied to the specific user and associated with the secure user id and user password that was entered in step 420.02. 420.08 The EPUC 18 locates the RU's account and verifies the user through user id and user password authentication i.e. were the correct user id and user password entered and due they match those for the specific account. When verification has been completed, the EPUC 18 delivers both the OPPA page and the RU's account information to the EPUWC 13. 420.10 The EPUWC delivers both the OPPA page and the RU's account information to the RUPC 11.

420.12 The RUPC 11 displays the RU's account information and OPPA information by loading the appropriate pages, that were delivered from the EPUWC 13, into the RUPC's 11 web browser. 420.14 The RU may be prompted as to whether or not they want to change password.

The RU will be made aware of the last time the RU changed their password by displaying the particular date on the face of the prompt. The EPUWC 13 will suggests to users that they change their password every six months.

420.16 If, during step 420.14, RU chooses to changes password, they are linked to the appropriate page to change their password and to confirm change. 420.18 After RU either changes password, or decides not to change password in step

420.14, the RU may be asked whether or not they want to change all or any item of the contact mformation.

420.20 If, during step 420.18, RU chooses to change contact information they are linked to the appropriate page to change their contact information. For a RU to change their contact information they will need both their RU and RU

Password. 420.22 After RU either changes contact information, or decides not to change contact information in step 420.18, the RU then is linked to RU menus.

Process to Access Registered User's Only Area and Register Electronic Prepaid

Purchasing Unit Receipt (FIG. 11): 440. Registered User follows one or more hyperlinks to an area for exclusive use of

Registered Users.

442. RUC transmits request to EPUWC 13 for RU Login file.

444. EPUWC 13 retrieves RU Login file.

446. EPUWC 13 transmits RU Login file to RUPC 11. 448. EPUWC 13 sets Login counter equal to "0" in order to provide a limit on login attempts as a prevention against attempted fraud.

450. RU enters their RU Login Name and Password.

452. RUPC 11 transmits Login information to EPUC 18 for Authentication.

454. EPUC 18 initiates process to authenticate account information. 456. EPUC 18 determines validity of RC account.

458. If EPUC 18 determines that information or account is invalid, the EPUC 18 adds a 1 to Login counter. 460. EPUC 18 determines if Login counter is equal to 3. If Login counter is not equal to 3, EPUWC 13 transmits "Access Denied" message (or similar type message) with attached Login file to RUPC 11 and RU is returned to step 450. 464. If in Step 460, EPUC 18 determined that Login counter is equal to 3, EPUWC 13 transmits "Call Customer Service" message (or similar type message) to

RUPC 11 and the process ends 466. 468. If in Step 456, EPUC 18 determined that RC Account is valid and current,

EPUWC 13 transmits "RU's Only" file (or similarly named file) to RUPC 11. 472. RU may select button to "Register Electronic prepaid Purchasing Unit Receipt" (EPUR) (or similarly titled button).

600. If RU does not select the "Register EPUR" button (or similarly titled button),

GOTO 600 (FIG. 13). 480. RUPC 11 requests "Unregistered EPURs" Page from EPUWC 13. 482. EPUWC 13 retrieves "Unregistered EPURs file" which was created when the RC exchanged legal tender for EPUs either as a RU without a RUC or as a

NRU. 484. EPUWC 13 transmits "Unregistered EPURs" page (or similarly titled page) to

RUPC 11. 486. RU enters NRAEC or RNCAEC. 488. RUPC 11 transmits NRAEC or RNCAEC and amount of EPUs to EPUC 18.

490. EPUC 18 cross-references NRAEC or RNCAEC with EPUs exchanged in

AHA. 492. EPUC 18 determines if there is a match between NRAEC or RNCAEC entered and those residing in the AHA database. 480. If EPUC 18 determines that no match exists between NRAEC or RNCAEC

GOTO 480. 494. If EPUC 18 determines that a match exists, EPUC 18 will credit RU's OPPA. 496. EPUC 18 copies the transaction record to the Closed Transaction Account

(CTA). 498. EPUC 18 flags the record for deletion from AHA. EPUC 18 transmits

"Transaction Successfully Completed" message (or similarly titled message)

500 to RUPC 11. The process then ends 502. Process for Non Registered Users to Create New Account (FIG. 12):

520. From the home page, the NRU hyperlinks to a page labeled "Become an RU"

(or similarly labeled hyperlink). 522. The Non Registered User Personal Computer (NRUPC) 9 transmits request to Electronic PrePaid Purchasing Unit Web Server Computer 13 (EPUWC) for the RU registration file. 524. The EPUWC 13 responds to the request by transmitting the RU Registration

Request to EPUC 18. 526. The EPUC 18 creates a new OPPA file. 528. The EPUC 18 returns a New OPPA file to NRUPC.

530. NRU enters New OPPA Information into OPPA file. Such information may include name, user name, log-on ID, password, address, e-mail, birthday, favorite things, symbol, etc.... 532. NRU activates a SUBMIT button. 534. OPPA information is transferred from NRUC 9 to EPUC 18.

536. EPUC 18 performs search to confirm that Login ID is unique and has not been previously assigned to an existing or prior RU. 538. EPUC 18 determines if Login ID is previously assigned to an existing or prior

RU. 540. If Login ID is unique and valid, EPUC 18 verifies that all information inputs to required fields on the OPPA creation fields exist. 542. EPUC 18 determines if all Required User information is inputted correctly and exists. 544. If all required user information exists, the EPUC 18 flags a new record to be transmitted to fulfillment house to create a RUC to be shipped to new RU.

546. EPUC 18 transmits "New RU Introductory Page" (or similarly titled page) to

RUPC 11. (previously NRUPC). 548. RU views new transmittal page and determines whether to transmit request to

EPUWC 13 for RU's Only area (or similarly titled area). 440. If RU selects option to view RU Only Area, GOTO 440 (FIG. 11).

550. If at step 538 EPUC 18 determines that Login ID has been previously assigned, EPUC 18 transmits "Login ID Already Exist" (or similar type message) attached to a New OPPA file to NRUPC 9. 552. NRU enters a new Logon ID and Password and returns to step 532. 554. If at step 542, EPUC 18 determines that information has been inputted incorrectly or information is missing, EPUC 18 transmits a "Missing Required Information" (or similar type message) attached to a New OPPA file to

NRUPC 9. 556. NRU enters requested information and is returned to step 532. 558. If RU does not select to view RU Only Area, the process ends.

Registered User Access On-line Shopping Mall and Affiliated Merchant Storefronts

(FIG. 13):

Once the RU has gained access 600 to the secured area of the web site, the RU may access the Affiliated Merchant On-line Shopping Mall (AMOSM) area of the web site located on the EPUWC 13. The RU may do this by left mouse clicking on the hyper link designated "on-line shopping" (located at 422) or similar title.

602. After hyper link has been activated by the RU, the RUPC 11 requests that the on-line shopping mall page to be loaded into the Internet web browser being utilized by the RUPC 11.

The RUPC 11 transmits a request 604 to the EPUWC 13 for the on-line shopping mall page. Once the EPUWC 13 receives the request from the RUPC 11 it retrieves 606 the on-line shopping mall file. The EPUWC 13 then transmits the shopping mall file 608 to the RUPC 11. The RUPC 11 receives the page and loads it into the Internet web browser. Once the shopping mall page is loaded onto the RUPC ll's web browser the RU can then hyper link to any one of the Affiliate Merchants (AM) that are displayed on the page 610 to gain access to that particular affiliate merchants on-line store front through the Affiliated Merchant Webserver Computer (AMWC 17).

612. After RU has selected a brand logo, the RUPC 11 transmits a request to the EPUWC 13 for that particular merchant's storefront frame that was selected in step 610.

613. The EPUWC 13 then contacts the AMWC 17 to request access to the affiliate merchants storefront. The AMWC 17 fetches 614 the on-line storefront frame that was originally requested by the RU.

616. The AMWC 17 then returns the online store frame via the EPUWC 13 to the RUPC 11. Though the RU is viewing the storefront of the affiliate merchant the request and retrieval appears seamless, due to the affiliate merchant's storefront frame being loaded within the frame of the on-line shopping mall's site. The original URL in the Internet web browser having not changed.

618. While viewing the affiliate merchant's frame the RU can then chooses product(s) by following the product links within the frame.

620. The RU can then add an item to their shopping cart by left mouse clicking on any single product image as the RU views the products offered throughout the affiliate merchant's storefront frame. Through this step the AMWC 17 may ask for further information such as size, color, and fabric of the item chosen before it is finally added to the RU's on-line shopping cart. Items are added to the RU's shopping cart 622 via the direct connection between the RUPC 11 and Affiliate Merchant Transaction Computer (AMTC).

624. The AMTC stores selected item in the RU's shopping cart.

626. After item has been added to the shopping cart the RU will be asked as to whether or not they want to continue shopping. At this step the RUPC 11 receives a prompt from the AFWC for the RU to decide whether or not they want to continue shopping on the current affiliate merchant's frame. If the RU decides to keep shopping on the current affiliate merchant frame, by left mouse clicking the yes prompt, steps 616-626 are repeated. If the RU decides that they no longer want to shop on the current affiliate merchant on-line storefront they left mouse click no as the answer to the prompt. 628. After RU decides that they to no longer want to shop they are then prompted to decide whether or not to checkout their on-line shopping cart.

636.01 If RU chooses "yes" to checkout shopping cart prompt (628) they begin checkout procedures 636.01 (FIG. 14). If the RU selects "no" at the prompt (628), the RU is returned to 410.

Displaying on-line shopping cart to registered user (FIG. 14):

636.01. If RU chooses to checkout their shopping cart at the AFMOSM they choose checkout from the prompt 628.

636.02. The RUPC 11 send checkout information to the EPUC 18. The information sent includes the RU's contact information and shopping cart information.

636.03. Then the EPUC 18 transmits the RU's secured RU contact (mailing) information and shopping cart items to the AMTC 15.

636.04. The AMTC 15 then collects RU's contact information in the AM's shopping cart page along with items that were selected from the AM's on-line store.

636.06. After validity test, the AMTC 15 returns an authorized file to the EPUWC 13. 636.08. The EPUWC 13 then returns file with an authorized purchase statement to the RUPC 11.

636.10. The RU's RUPC 11 displays shopping cart information with RU's contact information i.e. "Transaction received correctly" or similar type of message.

The information on the page also includes what item(s) are to be purchased and inquires as to how many of each item(s) are to be purchased. 636.12. RU reviews purchase and contact information. At this time the RU indicates how many of each item(s) they wish to purchase. After reviewing the order the RU clicks the approval link on the page. 636.14. The RUPC 11 transmits "continue" request to the EPUWC 13. 636.16. The EPUWC 13 transmits continue request to AMTC 15. 636.18. After receiving continued request from the EPUWC 13 the AMTC 15 calculates RU approved purchase order. 636.20. AMTC 15 transmits calculated order to EPUC 18. 636.22. EPUC 18 calculates whether sufficient EPUS exist in RU's account to make purchase. 636.24. EPUC 18 does calculation to determine whether or not AMTC 15's purchase calculation is greater or less then the available EPU in the RU's account. 636.26. If the amount of EPUs in the RU's account is less than those of the AMTC

15 's calculated purchase order then an error message is sent to the RUPC 11 via the EPUWC 13. 636.28. The RUPC 11 is asked whether or not they want to edit their purchase order to meet the available EPUs that are in the RU's account. If RU decides to edit purchase they begin the process of editing their order in the affiliated merchant Web store's shopping cart 650 (FIG. 15). 636.30. If RU decides not to edit purchase, then the checkout procedures ends. 636.34. If the amount of EPUs in the RU's account is equal to or greater than the amount of the purchase, the RUPC 11 returns the calculated shopping cart to the EPUWC 13.

636.36. After the calculated shopping cart is sent to the EPUWC 13 the RUPC 11 displays calculated shopping cart. 636.38. If RU user then wants to complete purchase transaction, they then go through the complete purchase transaction with affiliated merchant process 700 (FIG. 16).

636.40. If RU decides not to complete the transaction then the checkout procedure ends.

Edit RU Order in Affiliated Merchant Web store's Shopping Cart (FIG. 15): 650.00. If the item(s) in the on-line shopping cart cost more than the EPUS in the

RU's account the RU can edit their shopping cart by removing an Item(s). 650.02. RU selects the item(s) that they want removed from the displayed shopping cart. 650.04. When RU has completed selecting item(s) from the on-line shopping cart, the RU selects "OK". The RUPC 11 then transmits an updated shopping cart to the EPUWC 13. 650.06. The EPUWC 13 then transmits updated on-line shopping cart to the AMTC

15. 650.08. After receipt of updated shopping, AMTC 15 removes the selected item from the order. Once AMTC 15 removes selected item from RU's order, the RU begins again the checkout procedures beginning with step 636.18 (FIG. 14) of the displaying on-line shopping cart to registered user.

Registered User Completes On-line Purchase Transaction with Affiliated Merchant (FIG. 16):

From the prompt in step 636.38 (FIG. 14) of displaying registered user's online shopping cart process, the RU selects "yes, I want to complete my on-line purchase transaction" 700. The RUPC 11 transmits the transaction complete request 702 to the EPUWC. Then the EPUWC transmits transaction complete request to the EPUC 18. 704. The EPUC 18 debits the RU's account for the amount of EPUs equal to the amount of the total purchase transaction. The EPUC 18 transmits approval message 705 to the AMTC that sufficient EPUs have been debited from the appropriate RU's account. This assures the AM that an accurate and timely

ATF/AHC payment 706 will be made to their account. 708. After receiving approval message, AMTC creates order in the AM's fulfillment system. If AM outsources their fulfillment orders, the AM is responsible for transmitting that order to the outsourcing company.

710. The AMTC then transmits transaction complete message to EPUWC. The

EPUWC then transmits transaction complete message page to RUPC 11. 714. RU's on-line purchase transaction is complete.

Nightly Clearing Process between the Electronic Prepaid Purchasing Computer, Host

Automated Clearing House Computer, and the Automated Clearing House Network (FIG. 17):

At the end of each day the EPUC 18 goes through the end of day process 800 of nightly settlement between the EPUC 18, host Automatic Clearing House Computer (ACH) 8, and automatic clearing house network. At the close of the day's business cycle the EPUC 18 prepares a detail report by DM location of the EPU Exchange Transactions completed for that days business cycle and debits the total legal tender amount to individual DM accounts receivable.

802. EPUC 18 determines whether transaction is an EPU or DMG transaction. 804. If transaction is determined to be DMG, the EPUC 18 prepares detail report, by DM location, of DMG transactions completed for current day's business cycle. 806. If a DMG transaction, EPUC 18 credits total legal tender of amount to accounts payable to specific DM locations. 808. If transaction is determined to be EPU, the EPUC 18 prepares detail report, by DM location, of EPU transactions completed for current day's business cycle. 810. If an EPU transaction, EPUC 18 credits total legal tender of amount to accounts receivable to specific EPU locations. After both DMG and EPU batch processes have been completed, EPUC 18 transmits a summary of EPU exchange and DMG transaction reports 812 to each individual POFT 16. 814. At the end of every day, a DME at a partner DM will print a POFT 16 detailed summary report for DM location to reconcile the day's register activity. 816. After step 814, POFT 16 transactions are complete for the day. 818. The EPUC 18 posts detailed DM reports on the EPUWC 13 for internal reconciliation purposes.

820. EPUC 18 consolidates all detailed DM reports created in step 818 into predetermined and pre-authorized bank transfer groups. The consolidation is done so that only one transaction against each DM bank is done on a daily basis. 822. EPUC 18 will post consolidated bank group detail reports on EPUWC 13 for transmission purposes. EPUC 18 nets consolidated bank EPU transactions against consolidated DMG transaction and a net transfer from or net transfer to report 824 is generated by DM bank group. 826. EPUC 18 transfers information to Host Automated Clearing House Computer (HACHC) 19 which creates bank transfer folder and loads folder with DM bank grouping files. 828. The HACHC transfers the days-end folder to host bank for debit clearance through ACH network. 830. Each DM bank grouping account is debited and host account bank account credited through ACH network for related collections.

832. HACHC 19 utilizes a collections management software that allows it to receive a review all pending and posting electronic transactions. 834. HACHC consolidate all payment information into single remittance file that is formatted to update DM A/R system. 836. The nightly settlement between EPUC 18, POFT 16, and HACHC 19 is completed. It will be understood that the foregoing is only illustrative of the principles of the invention, and that various modifications can be made by those skilled in the art without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention. All references cited herein are expressly incorporated by reference in their entirety.

What is claimed is:

Claims

1. A system for providing an electronic prefunded purchasing unit account funding network for allowing network users to purchase goods or services from a merchant over a communications network, comprising:
(a) an account funding network comprising at least one server computer having prefunded purchasing unit account information, including a unit value, for a plurality of network user accounts;
(b) a point of funding electronic prefunded purchasing unit terminal in communication with the account funding network and having control logic for identifying a network user and adjusting the unit value of the network user's prefunded purchasing unit account;
(c) at least one merchant computer in communication with the funding network, the merchant computer having control logic for allowing the purchase of goods or service from the merchant, the at least one merchant computer being accessible by network users over a communications network; wherein the account funding network includes control logic for debiting a network user's account and crediting a merchant in response to a network user request to make a purchase from a merchant over a communications network.
2. The system of claim 1, wherein the account funding network is accessible to a network user over a communications network.
3. The system of claim 2, wherein the account funding network further comprises an interface accessible to network users over a communications network and providing at least one communications link to a merchant computer.
The system of claim 3, wherein the interface is an internet portal site.
5. The system of claim 3, wherein the account funding network includes control logic to allow a network user to purchase goods from a merchant by debiting the network user's account and crediting the merchant only where the network user initiates communications with the merchant using a funding network interface link.
6. The system of claim 5, wherein the account funding network includes control logic for transmitting an electronic store front from the merchant computer to the network user.
7. The system of claim 1, wherein the account funding network includes control logic for receiving shopping cart checkout information representing a network user request to make a purchase from a merchant, the account funding network comparing a price associated with the purchase request to prefunded purchasing unit account information for the network user to determine if the unit value of the account is sufficient to make the price.
8. The system of claim 1 , wherein the point of funding electronic prefunded purchasing unit terminal includes means for reading network user identification indicia from a user registration card.
9. The system of claim 1, wherein the account funding network includes control logic for generating a unique transaction identifier to identify a point of funding electronic prefunded purchasing unit terminal transaction with an unidentified network user, the account funding network further including control logic to permit the unidentified user to identify the point of funding electronic prefunded purchasing unit terminal transaction to the network user's prefunded purchasing unit account.
10. A method for providing an electronic prefunded purchasing unit account funding network for allowing network users to purchase goods or services from a merchant over a communications network, comprising:
(a) establishing a network user prefunded purchasing unit account on the account funding network, the account funding network comprising at least one server computer having prefunded purchasing unit account information, including unit value information, for a plurality of user accounts; (b) adjusting the unit value of a network user prefunded purchasing unit account from a point of funding electronic prefunded purchasing unit terminal in communication with the account funding network and having control logic for identifying a network user and adjusting the unit value of the network user's prefunded purchasing unit account;
(c) providing network user access to at least one merchant computer in communication with the funding network, the merchant computer having control logic for allowing the purchase of goods or service from the merchant, the at least one merchant computer being accessible by network users over a communications network;
(d) debiting a network user's account and crediting a merchant in response to a network user request to make a purchase from a merchant over a communications network; and (e) settling all crediting and debiting transactions.
11. The method of claim 10, wherein the step of providing network user access to at least one merchant computer further includes providing to the network user an interface accessible over a communications network and having at least one communications link to a merchant computer.
12. The method of claim 11, wherein the interface is an internet portal site.
13. The method of claim 11 , wherein the account funding network allows a network user to purchase goods from a merchant by debiting the network user's account and crediting the merchant only where the network user initiates communications with the merchant using a funding network interface link.
14. The method of claim 13, wherein providing network user access to at least one merchant computer includes transmitting an electronic store front from the merchant computer to the network user.
15. The method of claim 10, wherein the account funding network includes control logic for receiving shopping cart checkout information representing a network user request to make a purchase from a merchant, the account funding network comparing a price associated with the purchase request to prefunded purchasing unit account information for the network user to determine if the unit value of the account is sufficient to make the price.
16. The method of claim 10, wherein the point of funding electronic prefunded purchasing unit terminal includes means for reading network user identification indicia from a user registration card.
17. The method of claim 10, wherein the account funding network includes control logic for generating a unique transaction identifier to identify a point of funding electronic prefunded purchasing unit terminal transaction with an unidentified network user, the account funding network further including control logic to permit the umdentified user to identify the point of funding electronic prefunded purchasing unit terminal transaction to the network user's prefunded purchasing unit account.
PCT/US2000/026169 1999-09-22 2000-09-22 Electronic prefunded purchasing unit account funding network and method WO2001022333A9 (en)

Priority Applications (2)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
US15550199 true 1999-09-22 1999-09-22
US60/155,501 1999-09-22

Publications (2)

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WO2001022333A1 true WO2001022333A1 (en) 2001-03-29
WO2001022333A9 true true WO2001022333A9 (en) 2002-12-12

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PCT/US2000/026169 WO2001022333A9 (en) 1999-09-22 2000-09-22 Electronic prefunded purchasing unit account funding network and method

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US7328190B2 (en) * 2002-09-24 2008-02-05 E2Interactive, Inc. System and method for adding value to a stored-value account
ES2450923T3 (en) * 2001-09-24 2014-03-25 E2Interactive, Inc. D/B/A E2Interactive, Inc. System and method for providing communication services

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US5826241A (en) * 1994-09-16 1998-10-20 First Virtual Holdings Incorporated Computerized system for making payments and authenticating transactions over the internet
US5749075A (en) * 1995-06-06 1998-05-05 Interactive Media Works, L.L.C. Method for providing prepaid internet access and/or long distance calling including the distribution of specialized calling cards
US5825863A (en) * 1995-12-11 1998-10-20 Walker Asset Management Limited Partnership Prepaid limited usage calling card
US6014650A (en) * 1997-08-19 2000-01-11 Zampese; David Purchase management system and method
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