A Stored Value Cards (SVCs) are a smart card-based alternative to cash. SVCs contain a chip which stores currency and processes transactions. SVCs can verify and perform financial transactions in an “offline” mode, versus traditional debit/credit cards. This means no network access is required by the payment collection terminals as funds can be withdrawn and deposited straight from the card. Like cash, payment cards can be used anonymously as the person holding the card can use the funds. They are an electronic development of token coins and are typically used in low-value payment systems or where network access is difficult or expensive to implement, such as parking machines, public transport systems, closed payment systems in locations such as ships or within companies.

Stored-value cards differ from debit cards, where money is on deposit with the issuer, and credit cards which are subject to credit limits set by the issuer and are connected to accounts at financial institutions. Another difference between stored-value cards and debit and credit cards is that debit and credit cards are usually issued in the name of individual account holders, while stored-value cards may be anonymous, as in the case of gift cards. Stored-value cards are prepaid money cards and may be disposed when the value is used, or the card value may be topped up, as in the case of telephone calling cards or when used as a fare card.

The term closed-loop means the funds and or data are physically stored on the token or card in the form of binary-coded data. This is unlike payment cards where data is maintained on the card issuer’s computers. Like payment cards, value can be accessed using a magnetic stripe (magstripe), chip or NFC / RFID embedded in the card; or by entering a code number, printed on the card, into a telephone or other numeric keypad.

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