CBA becomes a technology vendor


In a surprise announcement, Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) today revealed it will take on the likes of Apple and PayPal in the next generation payments market with the launch of its own Point-of-Sale (POS) tablet and iPhone attachments. In what has been described as an Australian-first, CBA will provide the eftpos solution directly to retailers in a bid to bypass rival third party POS devices.

The hardware consists of an Android 4.0-based tablet, called Albert, and an iPhone attachment called Leo. Both can accept credit card and Near Field Communications (NFC) payments and are fully mobile with 3G and WiFi technology built in as standard. Other hardware features include a camera for QR and barcode reading, and optional printers for receipts. Wincor Nixdorf is the hardware partner and shares co-ownership of the IP with CBA.

The bank has also developed an application ecosystem called Pi, in collaboration with IDEO, which is open to third party developers. Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, Executive General Manager of Corporate Banking Solutions at CBA says every application will go through a vetting process before gaining approval for sale. It is also hoped a partner ecosystem will develop around Pi to create a wide range of customised applications to meet the needs of different retail verticals. Ten applications have already been developed including a restaurant bill-split application, a loyalty club and a Small-to -Medium Enterprise (SME) analytics tool that will allow businesses to drill down into what credit cards customers are using and where they are located.

“If there are no solutions on the market to resolve your needs, you need to make them,” says Rosmarin. “Forty-six per cent of customer payments are at POS, and we needed to find efficiencies there. Customers want better customer experience, more personalised interaction, more security and they want to see intuitive technology.”

Leo is piloting now and will be available within the next month, while Albert is due for a release next year. Rosmarin says CBA will focus on rolling out the offering in the Asia Pacific market, while Wincor Nixdorf will take the technology worldwide.

Fast Facts:

Albert – the Android tablet – features a seven inch multi-touch screen

Leo offers the same functionality for IOS users – but works as an attachment for an Apple iPod Touch or iPhone

– Payment options include EMV chip and pin, contactless and magnetic stripe, NFC and wallet capabilities

– Both meet PCI-PTS 3.x global security standards