As Wi-Fi's role in payment processing grows increasingly prominent, VeriFone has developed a product to help avoid the usual pitfalls of integrating new technology.
WiFi-in-a-Box is a multicomponent package, complete with thorough and explicit directions, for merchants who are interested in wireless POS systems but lack the technical acumen to configure them.
"The WiFi-in-a-Box is our answer to bring more of a new, enhanced and maybe complex technology to the mom and pop store - in addition to offering that technology to the large retailers or restaurants who have their own IT [information technology] infrastructure and IT personnel," said Bulent Ozayaz, Vice President, Marketing for VeriFone.
Included in WiFi-in-a-Box is a "preconfigured," handheld PIN entry device and router that requires no programming since the encryption key and routing URL are already built in.
To set up their Wi-Fi system, merchants need only follow a series of nontechnical steps laid out in the product's instruction manual, Ozayaz said.
"We put in instructions that are very similar to the ones you usually get from Dell computers - when you get a Dell they usually tell you in detail how to plug a power adaptor and how to turn on the laptop," he said. "It is even to a detail that is sometimes unnecessary, but such documentation minimizes calls into customer service centers."
According to Ozayaz, set-up is simple. When merchants or ISOs receive their WiFi-in-a-Box shipments, all they need to do is plug the Wi-Fi router through an Ethernet cable to connect to the Internet.
Ozayaz compared the current level of integration of Wi-Fi in merchant environments to that of dual communication terminals (Ethernet with dial-up as backup) several years ago, which was hindered by a broad "learning curve." He said that, though VeriFone's customers have grown much more adept at installing and using those terminals today, "four or five years ago it wasn't such an easy process."
"So when we introduce the Wi-Fi terminals, a new enhancement to the IP [Internet protocol] connectivity, we try to identify some obstacles that may limit its adoption - and one of them was the installation," he added.
Ozayaz said the preconfigured setup could even enhance security in POS environments by simplifying the encryption process. By generating encryption keys before the product is deployed, the process is taken out of merchants' hands and consigned to experts outside the payment chain.
"The whole idea is, as long as you use an unknown key, to a hacker in your Wi-Fi infrastructure, that hacker won't be able to even sniff the air [for readable data]," he said. "The data being exchanged between the Wi-Fi router and terminal is unreadable - even the merchant doesn't know what the key is."
Ozayaz said WiFi-in-a-Box is aimed at merchants who "require some mobility in their retail store," like those working at kiosks or inside stadiums. But he added that "we strongly believe that the wireless infrastructure will eventually replace all cable-based communication."
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