The Australian bank has followed its Kaching mobile payments service with the launch of a point-of-sale application development platform that works with an Android-based POS terminal as well as an add-on for Apple iPhones and iPods and is designed to allow developers to add new types of features for merchants via mobile phone-style apps.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) has unveiled CommBank Pi, a software platform built on industry-standard technologies that integrates with two new point-of-sale solutions, an Android-based CommBank Albert POS terminal and CommBank Leo, an add-on for Apple's iPod Touch and iPhone.
Together, the new platform and POS devices are designed to enable developers to create new kinds of applications for merchants and then distribute them through an app store, CommBank Pi AppBank.
"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," says the bank. "We encourage everyone to create apps that can help businesses enhance their customer experience and increase their efficiency."
"Every aspect of the customer interaction is being transformed by social, mobile and online technologies," says Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, executive general manager of corporate banking solutions at Commonwealth Bank. "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."
"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," Bayer Rosmarin adds. "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."
The CommBank Albert POS terminal runs Android 4.0 and features a 7-inch touch screen, 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity, dual core ARM processor and full merchant terminal capabilities. A built-in camera allows coupon and barcode scanning while receipts can be printed by the device or emailed to the customer. Payments via EMV contact cards, magnetic stripe cards, contactless cards and NFC phones are all supported.
"Much like a smartphone or tablet, Albert can be customised to the unique needs of every business," says CommBank. "You can either develop an app for the open Pi platform to be used by many businesses, or create one just for a specific business... Albert is always connected to the Pi platform so it has the ability to self-upgrade as required. This allows you to push out upgrades for your apps quickly and easily.
The device and the Pi platform were developed by Commonwealth Bank in collaboration with Wincor Nixdorf and Ideo. CommBank Albert will begin the certification process this year and the commercial launch is expected during the second quarter of 2013.
CommBank Leo, meanwhile, is designed to attach to an Apple iPod Touch or iPhone4 and makes use of technology developed by Ingenico. "Leo will offer similar payment functionality and unique customisation," says the bank. The device is currently in pilot testing and will launch commercially next month. The Pi platform is available for developers to begin creating applications today and a software development kit (SDK) will be released later this year.
"We know businesses want to have richer relationships with their customers but have felt restricted in the ways they can do so," Bayer Rosmarin explains. "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.
A video explains Commonwealth Bank's vision: