CAFE - Conditional Access For Europe

About CAFE:

CAFE (Conditional Access For Europe) has been a project in the European Community's ESPRIT program (Number 7023) that has developped a secure electronic payment system that protects the privacy of the user. Thirteen partners from several countries have been involved. The target was to make electronic wallets that can be used for payment, access to information services, and - if required - identification. It should be an open, secure system.

Possible future extensions include electronic personal credentials (like passports, driver's licenses or housekeys) and medical information.

The project was about payments in shops, not payments over the Internet. Shop-payments are the more difficult type, because on-line connections cannot be assumed and the hardware must be portable. For the Internet, a system with related properties already exists in real life: Digicash's ecash.

The main hardware is pocket-sized electronic wallets. Several versions have been designed, some simple with just two buttons, some with larger LCD screens and more buttons. The protocols could also be run in extensions to existing PDAs. The wallets have an infrared interface to make use easy. They use smartcards as money storage. For compatibility, it is currently possible to use the smartcards without the wallets, too (although this reduces the protection of users agains fake-terminal-attacks and the suitability for multiple applications).

CAFE started in December 1992 and ended in November 1995, with 3 months' official extension for the trial, which is still taking place on the premises of the European Commission since October 1995. Final reports are still to appear.

There is a Special Interest Group "Multicurrency Electronic Wallets [SIGMEW]" established by the EU related to this trial; about 30 organizations, in particular financial ones, have joined. It is hoped that a few of those will take over the system after the end of the trial.

More Information:

For more details, More detailed technical information should soon be available. For preliminary versions, please mail.

Partners (and the nearest to a CAFE page we found)

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Birgit Pfitzmann,

Date of last real modification: April 17, 1996