July 17, 2012

Commonwealth Bank of Australia unveiled a set of new point-of-sale mobile payments technologies today. The technologies are based around Commonwealth Bank's new CommBank Pi merchant point-of-sale software platform that will enable businesses and app developers to create apps that are distributed to merchants through CommBank Pi's AppBank.

The new software platform and apps will run on one of two new device options designed by Commonwealth Bank: Pi Albert and Pi Leo. Pi Albert is a multifunctional device with an interactive 7-inch high resolution touchscreen and based on the Android platform with a secure EMV pin interface and merchant terminal capabilities. Albert allows for 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity as well. Commonwealth said that Albert will make payments easier and more convenient for customers because it takes multiple payments types including EMV chip and PIN, contact-less and magnetic stripe cards and NFC coupon and wallet technologies. For instance, restaurants will be able to make use of the "Split the Bill" Pi app on Albert to allow customers to divvy up their bill right at the table using different payment methods.

"Pi, together with Albert, will empower businesses to go beyond a simple transaction by using consumer-friendly applications and a human-centric interface to enrich the customer experience," said Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, Commonwealth Bank's executive general manager of Corporate Banking Solutions, in a statement. "From offering an easier way of splitting the bill, activating a loyalty program, using information on customer preferences, to offering a more personalized experience or checking stock - with Pi, the opportunities are limitless."

Pi Leo attaches to an Apple iPod Touch, iPhone 4 or iPhone 4s, allowing Pi's software platform and AppBank to turn the device into a fully functioning merchant terminal with the ability to run apps from the AppBank. Commonwealth calls the device a more secure upgrade over other card reader alternatives that attach to Apple devices. Pi Leo also accepts multiple payments methods like the Albert device. Both devices also meet the highest mobile payments security standards, Commonwealth assured.

Both the Pi platform and Pi Albert device were designed from the ground up with the help of Wincor Nixdorf and IDEO. Pricing for the new technologies will be determined over the coming months, Commonwealth said, adding that some of the new technologies are still in piloting.

"Every aspect of the customer interaction is being transformed by social, mobile and online technologies," Commonwealth's Rosmarin said. "Today we are leveraging our multi-year investment in core banking and ongoing innovation at the edge to transform point-of-sale forever."

[See Related: Will Mobile Wallets Replace Their Traditional Counterparts? ]

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jonathan Camhi is a graduate of the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism, where he focused on international reporting and interned at the Hindustan Times in Delhi, ...