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The source material indicates the banks can issue certified credsticks up to their maximum limit, which is indicated by their band. Why?

from what I can tell:

  • All certified credsticks, regardless of band cost the same to be buyer.

  • Once commissioned the band provides no indicator as to the credit on the stick at any time (multiple transactions from the same stick are possible)

  • I've seen no indicator that it can be 'topped up' with more credit.

Is it just a prestige thing, or have I misunderstood something?

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Credsticks in general act like debit cards and the account behind them can be refilled. Certified credsticks work the same way but without an associated identity. The obvious answer is that if someone performs a transfer of 500,000 nuyen off a credstick whose color is only rated up to 50,000 nuyen, they are doing haxx0r tricks to rip you off. You still have to verify the amount on the stick of course - like a gift card, they can be depleted, but at least you know what the 'face value' is. Consider it like a "$50 itunes gift card" - should be $50, might be depleted to less, certainly not over $50.

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A certified credstick is a stand-alone item that does not require a link to a account. Think of it as a portable bitcoin wallet. You pay for something by placing it in a reader (which may be linked to the account of the person you are paying, or to another credstick). The reader will then deduct the correct amount from your credstick and add it to the stick or account the payee selects. They are useful because like US bearer bonds of old they can be used by anyone who actually has the stick.

The bands simply give a limit to the amount the stick can hold. (I actually found this question while searching for the amounts of each band, as this info seems to be missing from my book.)

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I always thought that certified credsticks worked more like cash, with their face value indicated by their band color.

If their face value can change, the idea of "certifying" them has no meaning.

So if you bought a 500 nuyen suit and paid for it with a 1000 nuyen certified credstick, your "change" would come back either on a different credstick or as a credit to your regular (non-certified) account.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ THat makes them kind of pointless as a replacement for cash, then, since they'd be used in exactly the same way... unless you're suggesting that vendors could create their own certified credsticks with exactly the correct change on 'em - and if and sprawl-dwelling shopkeeper can do that, why not other people? \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Jan 16 '12 at 5:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ it depends how you look at it. If I gave you a "certified" $1000 bill that you knew wasn't counterfeit for a $730 transaction, you could just give me back a /regular/ credstick with 730 on it, or credit the change back to my account. \$\endgroup\$ – Lynn Jan 16 '12 at 5:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ I suppose you could look at it like that, but if that were the case I'd expect to see non-certified credsticks on the equipment list. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Feb 14 '12 at 6:53
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The bands are not unique to certified(ie. anonymous) credsticks. The band of a CS determines its limit for a single transaction, and has nothing to do with the actual amount in the account.

Certified credsticks are not cash. They are linked to anonymous accounts that can only be accessed by the bearer of the stick. Just that those accounts are not linked to any SIN as with a regular credstick.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Do you have a reference for the "limit for a single transaction" thing? If true, it's an important detail the other answers have missed. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe May 18 '15 at 5:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, I'm missing the original books now. This piece of information is a distant memory only :D That's how we took it to be when we played and it made sense \$\endgroup\$ – edgerunner May 18 '15 at 6:01
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I'm not up to date on more recent book offerings, because I think anything past 3E is kind of crap (boatloads of setting flavor and quirks entirely stripped out, etc) - so if there's been new information published that contradicts this information, I'm cool with it, but it's not usually something they actually do.

Shadowrun 3E core rule book, page 239-

Similar to a cash or bearer bond, a certified credstick is not registered to a specific person and is worth the amount of credit encoded on it. It requires no identification to use. As it is encoded by the financial institution that issued it with raw funds, it can be used by individuals other than the person to whom it was originally issued. Banks usually charge a small percentage to create a certified credstick. They cannot be used as ID.

Certified credsticks are a popular form of payment among shadowrunners.

There is no account it is tied to, the funds exist solely on the credstick- which is why there are rules for cracking them to create money out of thin air (though extremely challenging).

In 3E, Registered credsticks are made of various materials/colors to indicate their maximum single transaction amount, and it also indicates the level of ID required to utilize it.

  • Standard — 5,000 — Passcode
  • Silver — 20,000 — Fingerprint
  • Gold — 200,000 — Voiceprint
  • Platinum — 1,000,000 — Retinal scan
  • Ebony — No limit — Cellular scan

3E Certified credsticks are not noted as being banded or having a 'type' to indicate how much money is on the stick. Being electronic devices, our tabletop group simply treated them as having a tiny display readout on them to check the balance. There is also no indiciation of a maximum transaction limit on them, as they are 'cash', you don't really have any sort of security here.

In reading the info available in Sprawl Survival Guide, there was only an elaboration on the functions and things you could do with them, such as cracking them and attempting to generate fake nuyen, or even new identities, but nothing about special bands.

In 4E, they changed to the 'commlink' system for all your major information that was previously provided by a registered credstick, so they only have certified sticks. The text is almost identical in the book from the 3E blurb on certified sticks, but they did add this:

Shadowrun 4E core rule book, page 260-

Banks issue certified credsticks in certain colors to generally indicate the limit of funds they carry; there is no limit on transaction amounts, however, except to the limit of what the credstick carries (see the Certified Credstick Table).

In the typical 4E fashion (lack of flavor), they merely copied the original Registered stick colors and made minor alterations to have them serve as Certified.

  • Standard - 5,000
  • Silver - 20,000
  • Gold - 100,000
  • Platinum - 500,000
  • Ebony - 1,000,000

In 5th Edition, these colors and values remain unchanged (5E core, page 442&443)

There could be other 4e & 5e fluff that elaborates on these in some manner, but I don't have many of those books and haven't bothered to look, though it did leave me mightily curious about where this "banded" credstick nonsense actually started, so I went back to my 2E core rulebooks to take a gander for anything useful.

2E Page 245 seems to indicate only 3 types of Registered sticks:

the credstick transmits identification data from a simple ID number (standard) or a thumbprint (silver stick) or a retinal pattern (platinum sticks) to the bank or lock.

and

Limited-use credsticks carry a specified credit limit, much like a certified check. Ownership of a certified credstick is by the bearer.

I skimmed through my 1st Edition core book and only found credsticks mentioned twice. Once in creation, indicating that all new runners get one, and later in the area discussing the fencing of loot, where it noted the fence would be interested in purchasing certified credsticks. The general assumption seemed to be that you would deal in cash(nuyen) and corporate scrip.

In all the digging around I've done thus far, I have found one and only one source online of Shadowrun-related material that mentioned the credsticks were banded to indicate max value, and that was on a few text-based MUDs which all sprang up from the same original source host and kept copies of the original area and item files before branching off in their own directions.

If there is a canon source for this piece of setting lore, I would love to have it and add it to my collection, but I haven't been able to confirm the existence of such a thing as of yet. All other references are to the color of the stick as a whole.

The word 'band' or 'banded' does not appear anywhere I can find in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th Edition core books.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast May 18 at 7:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ re: the banding not appearing the text. this is interesting! It's definitely something that appears in the various fictions - a google search for "credstick" + "band" will show up a couple of hits.. pretty sure it appears in the nigel findley novels.. I'll go dig up my copy of 2xs. the SR5 book definitely implies you can identify the color of a credstick visibly "so don’t get excited when you see a gold credstick" \$\endgroup\$ – TygerKrash Jun 1 at 12:08

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