Monday, April 07, 2003

BIS-Glossary on payment terms ... not completely fleckless !

The BIS has recently published a revised glossary of payment terms. This is of course very much worth the download. In it is a tasteful word (that came from the 1996-Security of Electronic Money report) that I'd like to further highlight:


from the German “fleckenlos”, which means spotless; a device (card) or a system is said to be fleckless when it can provide evidence that it has not been tampered with.

Let me explain the background of this definition. In 1996 an international group of central bank employees (we may also call this a task force) were in a hurry to make a report on safety of electronic money instruments. As a part of their work they held interviews and at some point in time one of the members started using the non-existent word fleckless (with the above meaning). As a running joke, the word came back in all later interviews. And the Task Force decided to put the word into the glossary of the report to see if this little joke would be appreciated and to find out which percentage of the readers would actually thoroughly read the report.

To date, I'm not aware of any readers that by themselves noticed the word and its strange explanation. It does keep coming back in all kinds of compiled payment glossarys. It's in the BIS glossary; I believe it is also in an ECB-glossary and from the looks of it, it will be in many more to come....... meaning that these glossaries are not completely fleckless !