CAFE Project
Conditional Access for Europe
ESPRIT project 7023


The CAFE project developed a secure electronic payment system which protects the privacy of the user.
There were some thirteen partners from several countries involved. The target was to make electronic wallets, that are used for payment, access to information services, and - if required - identification. It is an open but secure system. Possible future extensions include electronic personal credentials (like passports, driver's licenses or house keys) and medical information.

DigiCash is heavily involved in the smart card aspects of the CAFE project, and has been responsible for the card mask development. DigiCash’s hardware department is also involved in making terminals to work with the CAFE payment system and the company’s cryptographers are also involved in the overall cryptography of the project.

  • CAFE is entirely public-key based.
  • CAFE supports multiple issuers of electronic value.
  • CAFE supports multiple currencies, including exchange during payment.
  • CAFE supports anonymous payments (as an issuer option).
  • CAFE provides recovery of lost, stolen, and damaged cards.
  • CAFE supports contactless transactions via infrared wallets.
  • CAFE protocols are open to public scrutiny.

Time frame

The CAFE project was completed on February 29, 1996. The first prototypes of the pocket-sized electronic wallets are now available and in operation. This wallet is a combination of a regular wallet to carry old fashioned money, and an electronic wallet that allows you to make payments to a POS (Point Of Sale) using infra red communication. For electronic money, a smartcard is used as a money storage device.


DigiCash (Netherlands), Cardware (United Kingdom), CWI (The Netherlands), Gemplus Card International (France), SEPT (France), KPN Research (The Netherlands).

Associate partners

Aarhus University (Denmark), Ingenico (France), Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium), Siemens AG (Germany), Sintef-Delab (Norway), Technische Universitat Dresden (Germany), Universitat Hildesheim (Germany), Universitat Karlsruhe (Germany).