BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. The Field of the Invention
Embodiments of the present invention relate to methods, systems and apparatus for communication and management of electronic receipt information. More particularly, these embodiments provide for the transmission of an electronic receipt from a vendor device to a purchaser device and for subsequent transmission, in some embodiments, of the electronic receipt to management and accounting software. An electronic receipt may be transmitted in conjunction with cash payment, charge, debit and authorization information or may be transmitted as a unique entity. Some embodiments of the present invention may utilize wireless purchasing devices (WPDs) to communicate with point-of-sale wireless vendor devices (WVDs) and arrange the electronic transfer of receipt information.
Electronic transactions involving the transfer of money and pecuniary assets are common in our society today. Stocks and bonds may be purchased and traded using only electronic transactions. Goods and services are also commonly purchased over the telephone or via the Internet using credit or debit accounts with electronic authorization.
Retail vendors typically accept credit and debit cards which are verified and authorized using electronic communications methods. Nearly every significant retail vendor accepts some form of credit or debit card as remuneration for goods or services. The accounts accessed through these cards are typically identified by a number embossed on the card and a magnetic strip on the card's surface that is encoded with account information. Transactions involving a credit or debit card account require authorization from the organization who issues the card. This authorization is generally obtained at the point-of-sale by a vendor through electronic communications channels. A transaction amount is determined and the amount of the transaction along with the account identification information are transmitted to the organization which issued the card or an authorization provider(AP). If the account has sufficient credit or funds to cover the transaction amount and the account has not been deactivated for some other reason, the card issuer will send an authorization code to the vendor or AP which indicates that the issuer will transfer the authorized amount to the vendor at an appropriate time.
Account information may be obtained by swiping the electronic strip of the card across a magnetic reader thereby eliminating the need for manual input. The transaction amount may also be transferred from an electronic cash register and combined with the account information automatically to make an authorization request.
These point-of-sale authorization request devices are typically connected to the card issuers or their representatives, sometimes known as authorization processors (APs), through a conventional telephone line. Often a dedicated phone line is connected to the point-of-sale authorization device for quick access to authorization data.
Wireless communication technology has progressed rapidly in recent years. Cell phones and other long-range communication devices have proliferated and are now commonplace among consumers. As technology advances, the cost of these devices is plummeting and even more widespread use is eminent. Mobile phones, pagers, two-way radios, smartphones, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and other communicators are all available on the market.
Internet use is also skyrocketing with millions of new users logging on each year. Internet commerce now represents a significant portion of retail commerce and is used by millions of consumers each day.
Communications protocols exist which allow present generation electronic communications devices to interface with the Internet and access Internet resources. The Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) is an open, global specification that enables mobile wireless communications devices to access and interact with Internet information and services. WAP is a communications protocol and environment which can be built on nearly any operating system including PalmOS, EPOC, Windows CE, FLEXOS, OS/9, JavaOS and others and provides service interoperability between different device families. WAP works with most existing wireless communications networks such as CDPD, CDMA, GSM, PDC, PHS, TDMA, FLEX, ReFLEX, iDEN, TETRA, DECT, DataTAC, Mobitex and others. WAP developers operate Internet gateways specifically tailored for wireless communications device users. These devices typically have small displays, limited memory and less bandwidth that stationary, wire connected computers, therefore, WAP provides for use of eXtended Markup Languages (XMLs) such as the Wireless Markup Language (WML) which offers Internet content tailored for cell phones, PDAs and other wireless, portable communications devices.
Using WAP and similar technologies, vendors, news agencies, financial institutions and other providers allow cell phone and other portable communications device users to buy and sell securities, execute credit card transactions, make account transfers, make bill payments, receive and send e-mail, view news reports. These providers offer seamless integration between the Internet and wireless portable communication devices.
Wireless communication devices are also becoming commonplace in the electronics industry. Wireless networking of portable computers and associated devices is now replacing a large segment of the networking market. Wireless communication devices including wireless networking adapters, hubs and other equipment utilize radio transmitters and receivers to transmit data signals from one device or node to another. These radio transmitters and receivers must utilize a specific frequency band and protocol to accomplish this task. Since these wireless networks and communications areas may often overlap, standards, protocols and privacy protection are necessary. One current standard in the industry has been established by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE) and is known as IEEE 802.11. This standard comprises communications standards, protocol and equipment specifications for wireless communication equipment including privacy and encryption provisions.
Another innovation in the wireless communications arena is the advent of short-range wireless networking between portable communications devices. One standard for this technology is known as Bluetooth®, and is being established by a collaborative group of communications and computing companies. Devices incorporating Bluetooth® technology will utilize a micro-chip transceiver for communications between devices. Bluetooth® devices will transmit in the previously unused 2.4 GHz range and will have a range of about 10 meters which may be extended to about 100 meters by increasing transmitter power. Bluetooth® technology promises to be a viable and economical networking solution for interconnection of cell phones, computers, printers, modems, computer peripherals, fax machines and other communications and computing devices. The size of the Bluetooth® transceiver makes it usable in devices as small as palm computers and cell phones.
Another established wireless connectivity standard is known as IrDA and employs infrared radiation to communicate between devices. IrDA is a point-to-point narrow angle, ad-hoc data transmission standard designed to operate over a distance of 0 to 1 meter at speeds of 9600 bps to 16 Mbps. It is typically used in a point-and-shoot fashion by pointing one device at another for direct data transmission.
SUMMARY AND OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION
Preferred embodiments of the present invention provide systems, methods and apparatus which provide for the generation, transmission and management of electronic receipts. Electronic receipts of embodiments of the present invention may comprise purchase transaction information including, but not limited to, total purchase price, vendor ID, purchaser ID, item descriptions, itemized pricing, purchase date, purchase time, discount information, creditor information, authorization information, receipt management information and other transaction information. The electronic receipts of embodiments of the present invention comprise itemized information so that detailed tracking and accounting of purchased items may be performed automatically.
Typically, an electronic receipt will be generated by a vendor device at a point-of-sale. When a transaction takes place, an electronic receipt may be transmitted from the vendor device to a purchaser device where the receipt may be stored for further processing within the device or for further transmission to other devices and systems. Preferred embodiments of the present invention employ a wireless vendor device (WVD) which may be a single device or a combination of devices capable of generating receipt information and transmitting receipt information to other devices. A WVD typically employs wireless communications technology to transmit the receipt information. Embodiments of the present invention may employ a radio frequency transmitter, an Infrared transmitter or other wireless communications methods.
The electronic receipt will generally be transmitted to a purchaser device and, in preferred embodiments, to a wireless purchasing device (WPD) which can store and manipulate the electronic receipt. A purchaser device, such as a WPD, may process and display the electronic receipt information directly as well as retransmit the receipt information to other devices or systems for further processing. A WPD may take the form of a personal digital assistant (PDA), a wireless phone or some other wireless communication device.
Alternate scenarios include purchasing an item using a wireless point of sale system. With this transaction, receipt is transferred from the vendor to the wireless point of sale device over a wireless system such as Bluetooth_or IrDA connection. Under this scenario no direct Internet connection is required as the information is transferred directly over a wireless connection over the WPD and the vendor.
Another purchasing scenario involves the purchasing of an item over a direct Internet connection via an Internet Protocol. For example, WAP. In this purchasing scenario, receipt is transferred from the vendor to the WPD via a wired or a wireless Internet connection.
Once the electronic receipt information has been transmitted to the purchaser device, the information derived from the electronic receipt may be processed and manipulated to provide additional functionality. Preferred embodiments of the present invention employ processing methods which compile multiple electronic receipts and provide a user with an accounting of each item purchased along with purchase information. Items listed in electronic receipts may be categorized into categories of items for accounting purposes. Each item on an electronic receipt may be placed in one or more categories and each item may be related to specific budget accounts. The methods of embodiments of the present invention may provide for real-time budgeting and accounting processes which allow a user to be constantly aware of current account and budget situations.
Accordingly it is an object of some embodiments of the present invention to provide systems, method and apparatus for creating electronic receipts.
It is another object of some embodiments of the present invention to provide systems methods and apparatus for transmitting electronic receipts.
It is yet another object of some embodiments of the present invention to provide systems methods and apparatus for providing accounting and budgeting methods using electronic receipts.