The Green Sheet Online Edition
September 28, 2009 • Issue 09:09:02
POS payment and acceptance in a phone
As various hallmarks of America's digital culture have made their way into cell phones, one technological tool remains conspicuously missing: the long-awaited near field communication (NFC) feature that allows phones to be used like credit cards in POS environments.
The technology has existed for some time (it is used widely in Japan), but the tricky matter of its deployment has proven a formidable stumbling block. A central problem has been coordinating the release of NFC payment technology with NFC payment acceptance technology - one, after all, is no good without the other.
A company called Zenius Solutions Inc. has devised a practical solution: manufacture both products and deploy them simultaneously. With its ZeniusMobilePay and ZeniusMobilePOS, the company may be at the vanguard of a landmark shift in payments.
ZeniusMobilePOS is designed to accept all major credit cards, either through a contactless smart card or an NFC phone, and, naturally, the two Zenius products can be used together. They can also both be installed in the same phone, allowing a user to make purchases and accept payments within a single mobile device.
"With MobilePOS what we've done is develop the applications that accept any card that could be in a mobile device - so for example, with a MasterCard if you wave the card in front of that mobile POS it will be able to read MasterCard like a regular reader," said John Wiese, Chief Executive Officer of Zenius Solutions.
"It's basically turning that phone into a point of sale for contactless cards, so just like you do [with a nonmobile contactless terminal], you wave a contactless card in front of the terminal," Wiese said. "So instead of having to have that big infrastructure, you can do acceptance on a mobile device."
For the purchaser, too, NFC payments offer multiple benefits, outside the fact that users no longer need to carry payment cards. For purchases made with mobile terminals especially, NFC technology is alleged to be much more secure than plastic.
With some portable terminals, credit card information needs to be punched in manually. And, for those that do have a swipe feature, data encryption often doesn't begin until after the point of swipe.
NFC devices like ZeniusMobilePay are guarded with cryptographic systems that make each purchase "dynamic"; in addition to a consumer's usual purchasing information, a unique code passes through the payment terminal with each purchase. Even in the event that card information is stolen, it can't be used to make another POS purchase because the unique code that's required is only generated from an NFC chip.
Currently, Zenius' NFC capability (both payment and acceptance) is embedded in two Nokia phone models. But Jenny Rae Cortese, Zenius Solutions Vice President of Marketing, said Zenius' products can be retrofitted to "virtually any SIM-based phone."
She said the same subscribed identity module (SIM)-based user interface that cell phone users visit to access names from a phone book is used for displaying and selecting credit cards. Add to that the chip-embedded cryptographic feature and radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology responsible for transmitting NFC signals and, voil“, an NFC phone.
Zenius Solutions Inc.
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