Fair play at the cash register
From January 2020, cash registers must be protected against manipulation. We will explain exactly what the applicable regulation requires, who is affected by it and which solutions are currently being discussed.
In the interest of greater tax fairness
Year after year, the tax authorities lose several billion euros due to tampered cash register data. The state now wants to put an end to this and has decided that from January 2020, all cash registers must be tamper-proof – in order to achieve greater tax fairness and fair competition.
Electronically signed receipts
The title's a bit of a mouthful: Ordinance establishing the technical requirements for electronic recording and security systems in commercial transactions. That’s why it has been abbreviated to KassenSichV, or Cash Register Anti-Tampering Ordinance.
Its contents: Cash register, accounting, security and recording systems, such as cash registers, must be protected in future against tampering using a certified technical security device (TSE). The ordinance will enter into force on 1 January 2020, and discussions are currently underway to extend the implementation period. The legal obligation primarily affects retailers and restaurants/cafés. Only old cash registers, which cannot be equipped with a TSE due to their design, are subject to a transitional arrangement: They can remain in use until 31 December 2022, but must at least comply with the regulations of the Federal Ministry of Finance on the storage of digital documents for cash transactions in force since 2016. Millions of cash registers will now have to be retrofitted.
The mandatory TSE consists of several modules, thanks to which cash register entries are recorded and stored in a tamper-proof manner and can be transmitted to financial auditors via a digital interface. At the heart of this concept is the electronic signature attached to the individual receipts. A checksum for each document ensures the integrity of the data: Subsequent intervention can be detected, since the checksum will then no longer be correct.
Local or central
Two types of solutions are mainly being discussed. In the case of the local solution, the TSE functions are integrated in a compact hardware module – such as a USB stick or SD card. This solution could be of interest, for instance, to dealers who operate only a few cash registers. However, the module in this solution will probably have to be replaced every three years.
The central cloud solution, on the other hand, is based on a web service in which a trusted service provider – such as Bundesdruckerei's D-TRUST – provides the security functions and signs receipts electronically. Since the required security infrastructure is located in the service provider’s protected data center, no hardware has to be installed on site at the operator's premises. A secure Internet connection is needed in this case. This solution is likely to benefit companies with many branches and cash registers as it enables a uniform rollout and efficient administration without having to change every cash register manually.
Solutions are currently being developed
There are as yet no ready-made solutions on the market: Several manufacturers are in the certification process with the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI). This process is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of this year.
The tax authorities are also aware that the date set is ambitious and appears to be expecting requests for exemptions. But one thing is certain, all those affected are well advised to contact the cash register manufacturer and prepare for the changeover process. After all, it is not enough to simply choose a particular solution, integrating this into the existing checkout landscape also takes time and manpower.
Solutions from Bundesdruckerei
Bundesdruckerei’s TIM Card (Tax Identification Module) offers tried-and-tested security devices that have been used successfully for years in taximeters and gaming machines. Keeping the different requirements of the retail sector in mind, Bundesdruckerei, together with its partners cv cryptovision GmbH and Deutsche Fiskal GmbH, is developing local and central solutions for cash registers. All solutions should be technology-open and manufacturer-independent.