An efficient micropayment system based on probabilistic polling

Stanistaw Jarecki, Andrew Odlyzko

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

2 Scopus citations


Existing software proposals for electronic payments can be divided into “on-line” schemes that require participation of a trusted party (the bank) in every transaction and are secure against overspending, and the “off-line” schemes that do not require a third party and guarantee only that overspending is detected when vendors submit their transaction records to the bank (usually at the end of the day). We propose a new hybrid scheme that combines the advantages of both of the above traditional design strategies. It allows for control of overspending at a cost of only a modest increase in communication compared to the off-line schemes. Our protocol is based on probabilistic polling. During each transaction, with some small probability, the vendor forwards information about this transaction to the bank. This enables the bank to maintain an accurate approximation of a customer’s spending. The frequency of polling messages is related to the monetary value of transactions and the amount of overspending the bank is willing to risk. The probabilistic polling model creates a natural spectrum bridging the existing on-line and off-line electronic commerce models. For transactions of high monetary value, the cost of polling approaches that of the on-line schemes, but for micropayments, the cost of polling is a small increase over the traffic incurred by the off-line schemes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationFinancial Cryptography - 1st International Conference, FC 1997, Proceedings
EditorsRafael Hirschfeld
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)9783540635949
StatePublished - 2015
Event1st International Conference on Financial Cryptography, FC 1997 - The Valley, Anguilla
Duration: Feb 24 1997Feb 28 1997

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Other1st International Conference on Financial Cryptography, FC 1997
CityThe Valley

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Work partly done during an internship at AT&T Labs - Research. Partly supported by a DARPA grant.

Publisher Copyright:
© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1997.


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