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Credit Chip

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A common assumption is that currency will take an entirely electronic form in the future, and that currency might be called credits. Of course, it might be a little inconvenient to go to a computer and transfer credits person-to-person, and if the transaction happens to be for something illegal you probably don't want it traceable.

Hence, many settings with credits also have small devices that can store quantities of electronic currency and transfer them easily from one to another, or just be handed over wholesale. These devices are usually called "credit chips" based on their components, or sometimes "cred sticks".

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Not to be confused with casino chips.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Cowboy Bebop, people use debit/credit cards rather than cash, and also carry around a double-ended reader for interpersonal transactions.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Star Wars the Republic and Empire both used credits as currency, with people using chips to exchange credits. The Clone Wars typically portrays them as small brass sticks.

    Literature 
  • Hammer's Slammers: In "A Death in Peacetime" the mysterious stranger who hires some former Slammers to assassinate Joachim Steuben pays them with a bag full of credit chips holding between three and five thousand New Friesland Thalers per chip, as the total of one hundred thousand would be suspicious for one chip. Plus a 100 Wreath coin from Newland on a chain like Steuben's Lucky Piece.
  • Honor Harrington: The Torch sub-series notes that slavers commonly use physical credit chips instead of electronic transfers for their transactions. There's legal uses for those chips as well, but all we see them used for are slave purchases.
  • In Neuromancer, the main character Case uses a credit chip while on the orbital resort Freeside. He pays for things by tapping the chip against dark plastic panels.
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    Live-Action TV 
  • In Almost Human criminals commonly use thumb drive-like devices loaded with Bitcoins for black market deals.
  • Babylon 5: Credits are stored on cards that slide into readers, one of which we see in "A Voice in the Wilderness" after Garibaldi gets tricked into paying for Londo's drink.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Scum and Villainy, Hegemonic credits are transported on specialized devices provided by the Counters Guild that are colloquially referred as "sticks" due to their shape.
  • In Shadowrun the preferred currency is NuYen rather than credits, but it's still a purely electronic currency. Fortunately for Shadowrunners untraceable "credsticks" that can be plugged into any commlink and transfer funds from one to another are in common use.
  • Starfinder has most people loading the credits they need for daily purchases onto chips they carry on themselves, partially to continue the long-standing RPG tradition of looting the bodies.
  • Traveller is one of the few settings where credits are typically used as banknotes, due to the lack of a Subspace Ansible electronic banking is limited to a single star system and the Third Imperium covers hundreds. However in TL 13 systems one can use an Imperial Standard Credit Card that's essentially a handheld bank.

    Video Games 
  • Deus Ex Credits are stored on green Credit Chits that can be picked up throughout the game.
  • Mass Effect uses credit chips despite the fact that most in-game transactions are handled via using omni-tools to transfer funds electronically. The justification for physical credit chips seems to be more for letting Commander Shepard be able to loot cash from boxes, and to have a sidequest where a racist volus accuses a quarian of stealing his chip.
  • In The Outer Worlds, Bits are just that, a 1-bit long serial code that corresponds to a number on the World Bank's supercomputer mainframe. They're stored on a "Bit Cartridge," which acts as both wallet and debit card (very much NOT credit cards, the Mega Corps want their money up front) and looks like a yellow, paisley-patterned SNES cartridge.
  • In Burn:Cycle, Sol Cutter carries a credit card that can be loaded with credits from the First Karmic Bank of Consciousness Credit. It even has a fingerprint scanner that lets you view its balance on the card itself.
  • Spaceship Warlock: Near the beginning, the police on Stambul reward you with a blue "CREDO" card containing 10,000 credits, as a reward for taking down a wanted criminal. One of the citizens even calls this card a "Credit chip".

    Western Animation 
  • Batman Beyond: The future has preloaded cards representing various amounts of credits the characters spend. Obnoxiously wealthy characters will display said wealth by dumping out several cards to pay for items, when it's also been shown to be quite easy to have all credits on a single card. One of Terry McGinnis's pieces of equipment as Batman is a specially designed card able to give him secret access to Bruce Wayne's wealth.

    Real Life 
  • Smartphones with payment apps and saved credit or debit cards have become common, some able to use cryptocurrencies that allow a degree (though not perfect) of anonymity.
  • Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can be stored on flash drives or other storage devices, though most prefer to use cloud wallets for the convenience.
  • Credit and debit cards issued in the 2010s often have embedded EMV chips, but these simply contain an access code for the attached account rather than digital cash itself. Pre-loaded debit cards are commonly sold at convenience stores.
  • Gift cards, containing a preset amount of cash redeemable for purchasing credit at specific websites or locations, are an early version of this trope.
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