by Byron Connolly

CBA to shake up payments with ‘Albert’ launch

Mar 31, 20153 mins
Risk Management

Commonwealth Bank has launched its wireless Android-powered ‘Albert’ console onto the Australian market, and expects to ship ‘tens of thousands’ of units to merchants across the country.

The innovative EFTPOS tablet – developed in Wincor Nixdorf and IDEO – is a WiFi and 3G-enabled device, which is pre-loaded with a payment app and other apps created by the bank.

The bank claimed Albert is the world’s first touch-screen, open platform terminal that meets EMV and PCI-compliance standards. EMV, ‘Europay, MasterCard and Visa’, is a global standard for interoperation of integrated circuit cards, POS and ATM terminals, and authenticating credit and debit card transactions.

CBA has 800 registered developers lined up to create apps specifically for the terminal.

The device was first flagged to be released in the second quarter of 2013 as part of the bank’s ‘Pi’ initiative. Last October, CommBank’s CIO, David Whiteing said security concerns had delayed its release.

At a launch in Sydney on Tuesday, CommBank’s managing director, payments and cash, Gary Roach, said it was a complex challenge to build a secure piece of hardware with a secure OS and payments app.

“You need to solve all three concurrently, which is complex, and then you need to get all of that through the quite challenging industry certifications that are required,” he said.

“We’ve built to quality and it will be very difficult for people to emulate what we’ve done.”

Roach said the terminal revolutionises the way Australians pay. Last year, 50 per cent of MasterCard payments in Australia were ‘tap and go’, and 60 per cent of access to the CommBank was via its mobile app, he said.

Dwayen Bonner, technical director at Albert user, Earthling Investments, said the device runs an internal app used by its fuel business – Mogas Group – which has streamlined compliance processes and improved efficiency.

He said the company had been looking for a device like Albert for 10 years – one with an integrated printer and card reader that also links to its ERP system.

“It’s important for our [truck] drivers are not having to call us up on a satellite phone to say ‘hey the printer is not linked up to the tablet device,” he said.

It also provides the organisation with a second point of data capture from drivers who often spend up to three weeks in the Australian outback, he said.

“We have the truck tracking device there that doesn’t let us know if the driver is ok. If there are tapping away on a device, we know that they are alive and safe,” he said.

The device is also used by merchants who offer fuel discounts through Earthling’s EasyFuel business.

“Albert is exciting for us there because the bank [CBA] has opened up their customer base to us,” he said.

Merchants using an Albert device can download an app and be up and running in five minutes with the fuel discount package. Previously, it would take two to three weeks to get a merchant signed up, paperwork completed, and terminal shipped to their premises, he said.

“It’s unchartered territory because it’s very unusual for a bank to allow you to take control of a payments application and make it seamless to use.”

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