Eagle Cash

A serviceman with an EagleCash card in May 2007.
EZPay card

Eagle Cash (stylized as EagleCash), and sister program EZpay, are cash management applications that use technology to process financial transactions in “closed-loop” operating environments. The programs are sponsored by the for the . The programs are administered for the Treasury by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, and are in use at approved U.S. military facilities inside and outside the . The systems utilize a plastic payment card, similar to a or , which has an embedded which keeps track of the amount of money stored on the card and interfaces with encrypted card acceptance devices. This allows with the card to purchase goods and services at U.S. military posts and canteens, without carrying , or manage their personal while on deployment or in training. The program reduces the amount of American currency required overseas, reduces theft, saves thousands of man-hours in labor, helps reduce the risk of transporting cash in battlefield environments, and increases security and convenience for service members. It helped reduce or eliminate the need for cash and .

Overview and history

Originally developed in 1997, the EZpay system was born as a pilot project aimed at inductees going into , to alleviate some of the stress and cost of managing money while away from home. The system works through soldiers receiving an on their wages in the form of the EZPay card, which they can then use to purchase goods and services, such as haircuts, snacks, and recreational activities at on-base and stores. At the end of basic training, the on the card would be reconverted into cash, and paid back to the soldiers.

A U.S. Army soldier refills his EagleCash card at a kiosk in May 2007.

Around the same time, the EZpay system was expanded for overseas use during the aftermath of the 1992-1995 , where U.S. personnel were deployed on missions. Named “EagleCash”, the overseas system functions similarly to the EZpay system, but with the added ability of soldiers to attach personal bank accounts to the card, allowing them to load, and reload, without having to access their financial institutions back home. As financial manager, Catherine Miles explained in a 2007 article, “It’s like a gift card. […] You can put as little or as much money as you want on it and it comes from your checking account.” Unlike regular debit cards, the Eagle Cash is managed on-base, using which ensures that the cards remained useful even when connections to banks and State-side are severed. It also eliminates the need for the practice of producing the . The use of a cashless economy at military stores reduces transaction times, freeing personnel from tasks like stamping money orders or counting coins — during 9 months of the Iraq War, this saved approximately 5000 hours of processing time for financial personnel. It also prevents .

Since the initial adoption of the EagleCash system, it has been augmented by kiosks which allow soldiers to add funds to the card without visiting the base’s finance office. The conversion to the kiosk system, developed by , remedied these problems and increased the ability of the system to provide easy cash for soldiers away from home — “something we often take for granted, but for soldiers deployed on foreign land, it has always been a challenge”.<ref name=”kio”/> To date, 3.2 million EagleCash and EZpay cards have been issued and used to process 16.5 million electronic transactions valued at over $3.6 billion.<ref name=”tre”/>

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