World-firsts in technology change the game for businesses and consumers

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Two months ago, Commonwealth Bank  unveiled the future of point-of-sale (POS) payments, powered by a new software platform, applications, and a new omni-commerce device that will redefine the POS experience for businesses and consumers. 

The announcements are the result of a significant investment in breakthrough design and engineering that address the complex security needs of POS while unleashing opportunity afforded by tablets and industry-standard platforms to deliver new innovations to consumers.

“Every aspect of the customer interaction is being transformed by social, mobile and online technologies,” said Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, Executive General Manager of Corporate Banking Solutions, Commonwealth Bank. 

“Today we are leveraging our multi-year investment in core banking and ongoing innovation at the edge to transform point-of-sale forever. With CommBank Pi, Australia is positioned to lead the retail revolution globally and deliver outstanding experiences to consumers that are as secure as they are simple.”

I was delighted that the Commonwealth Bank in Darwin invited me to see, one of the new five technologies called LEO, a week ago.

Commonwealth Bank announced five new technologies.

  • CommBank Pi is a software platform built on industry-standard technologies and integrated to create the next generation of merchant POS solutions. This platform enables application developers and businesses to easily create applications for business use and distribute them through CommBank Pi’s AppBank to merchants. 
  • Both technologies run on CommBank Albert, a brand newomni-commerce device which combines a range of industry firsts into a multi-functional hardware platform featuring an interactive touchscreen experience, Android based platform, secure EMV pin interface, printer, and merchant terminal functionality. 
  • CommBank Leo attaches to Apple iPod Touch or iPhone4 and iPhone4S devices to enable Pi to transform them into a fully functioning merchant terminal and move beyond unsecure card reader alternatives. Both Leo and Albert represent the future of merchant terminals and open a new innovation ecosystem to developers and businesses alike. 
  • A range of CommBank Pi Applications have been designed specifically to improve businesses’ interactions with their customers and improve their operating effectiveness. For example, the intuitive Split the Bill application will make it simple for a bill to be divided between multiple people and payment methods.

Both the Pi platform and Albert were engineered from the ground-up using a human-centred design approach with global IT and design leaders Wincor Nixdorf and IDEO. Based on extensive feedback from consumers and businesses, Albert features a 7” screen and portable touch interface. 

This enables businesses to offer the customisation of Pi through the Android-based platform together with flexible payment options and enhanced mobility - without compromising on the highest security standards of EMV chip and pin. “

"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. 

From offering an easier way of splitting the bill, activating a loyalty program, using information on customer preferences, to offering a more personalised experience or checking stock – with Pi, the opportunities are limitless,” said Ms Bayer Rosmarin. 

The launch of Pi comes at a crucial time for Australian businesses, as the business-consumer paradox continues to widen.

A new Commonwealth Bank study 1 has highlighted the growing gap between customer expectations and business owners’ recognition of the need to meet these evolving requirements. The study revealed around two-thirds (64 per cent) of customers said no staff assistance resulted in a frustrating shopping experience, in staggering contrast to only 4 per cent of businesses which believed this was an issue. Over three-quarters (83 per cent) of customers also said waiting in a queue to pay resulted in a frustrating shopping experience, while less than one-quarter (22 per cent) of businesses acknowledged this as a concern. 

Additionally, 23 per cent of consumers said out-dated technology or no technology beyond basic payment terminals was a key frustration, compared with only 15 per cent of businesses.

“We know businesses want to have richer relationships with their customers but have felt restricted in the ways they can do so. Pi will help break down these barriers, having been designed from the ground-up and based on actual business feedback to deliver a solution that will revolutionise the customer experience. Interactions between businesses and their customers will never be the same again,” said Ms Bayer Rosmarin.

“CommBank is committed to providing game-changing, human-centric innovations for our customers and we believe Pi firmly delivers on this commitment. We look forward to continuing to work with our business partners and welcoming new developers on board as we work towards general availability and rollout of Albert in 2013.” 

Albert will commence its certification this year, with expected general availability, depending on the time taken for final certification in Q2 2013. 

Leo will offer similar payment functionality and unique customisation. Using Ingenico technology, Leo functions as a cradle to Apple iPod Touch or iPhone4 and iPhone4S devices and is suitable for mobile businesses. Leo is currently already in pilot and will be available to other businesses next month. 

The Pi platform and AppBank will be available only through either the Albert or Leo devices and will offer developers and businesses alike the ability to design and customise the apps that work best for their business. All apps will be subject to approval from Commonwealth Bank before they will be released for use. Pi is available for developers to begin creating applications immediately.
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