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E-cash (also referred to as digital cash, digital currency or electronic money) is a method of online payment — a digital representation of real money that can be placed on a computer hard drive, smart card, other devices with memory (including cellular phones and other electronic communication devices), or in an online repository.
Consumers purchase e-cash from an authorized provider. These funds can then be transferred among vendors and individuals using compatible electronic systems, in some cases without resorting to banks or other financial intermediaries. When customers spend the e-cash, it is credited to the retailer’s e-cash account and later transferred to the retailer’s regular bank account.
E-cash provides the means by which an individual can pay for goods or services using a special digital signature which is anonymous but which guarantees the recipient that the e-cash can be redeemed for actual money.