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The Green Sheet Online Edition

October 08, 2007 • Issue 07:10:01

Did Diebold patent the future of contactless?

Although using your cell phone to pay for groceries at the local supermarket might still be a few years away, ATM and security system maker Diebold Inc. is positioning itself to lead the way.

Diebold recently divulged that it had been granted five U.S. patents over the last 18 months. These patents range from enabling mobile devices to remotely "order" cash withdrawals from an ATM to substituting a wireless device's keypad and screen for the keypad and screen of an ATM, thereby making it harder for criminals to snatch your PIN number.

According to Jim Block, Diebold Director, Global Adv-anced Technology, the future technology based on these patents will "boost the convenience and personal security factors of using an ATM."

Speed dial for snacks

But the technology will also be available at the POS. Patent 7,207,477, for instance, is the blueprint for technology that will enable your mobile device to electronically pay for items at a self-service checkout.

As stated in the patent's abstract, the wireless device will include a camera and a programmable memory. The device is to work in this way:

  • The memory will include customer account data.
  • The camera captures and transmits an image of the bar code to the host.
  • The host determines the item's cost from the received bar code image.
  • The customer then wirelessly transmits their account data from the wireless device to an in-store terminal.
  • The terminal transmits the account data to the host.
  • The host accepts and uses the account data in payment for the item.

No provider is offering this technology yet. But "Diebold is in discussions with technology partners that could bring these applications closer to reality," said Block.

"The know-how to marry mobile devices to ATMs," he continued, "has been lab-tested by Diebold's engineers and could be in users' hands within three to five years, facilitating faster ATM transactions and more of them, in more places and at more hours, with greater peace of mind." The Dove 2006 ATM Deployer Study, which tracked the state of the U.S. ATM industry as of spring 2006, estimated that U.S. ATMs performed 8 billion transactions per year, representing $600 billion in dispersed cash.

Industry experts report that the ATM market is saturated. But possibilities may exist for lucrative new markets in the wireless and cardless transaction arena for merchant level salespeople (MLS) and ISOs. end of article

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