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No More Pin Pads

I recently had a conversation with a client who said acquirers want to be innovative and get rid of terminals (pin pads). But they did not know how.

In the light on Pin On Glass emerging, I think this is a relevant question. Hence I wanted to share some of my thoughts.

Why talk about this?

  • Terminals are expensive, as they must adhere to strict security standards
  • Terminal management is a cost for an acquirer. When using off the shelve consumer products (like iPads), this could be delegated to the merchant. At least to a certain degree.
  • Financial institutions want to stay at the forefront of fast changing FinTech, or even aspire to become disruptors. The reality probably is though that most just don’t want to lag behind.

What is already out there?

There are some solutions that already work without PIN Pads:

Let’s take a step back

When taking a step back, what problems does the combination of terminal, card and pin solve?

  1. Two-factor authentication with PAN (card) and PIN
  2. The acceptance problem, aka chicken and egg problem (no merchant pays to enable acceptance of a payment instrument that no one uses / No one uses a payment instrument that no merchant accepts). Credit cards and terminals solve this problem on a huge scale (compared to other payment instruments) and do so in a secure, standardized, globally applicable way.

What can be done?

To replace pin pads, new ways to solve these problems must be found.

  1. Two-factor authentication
    Two-factor authentication can be done in a number of ways. Some solutions are already mentioned above, e.g. introducing biometrics. One could also imagine the use of voice recognition or face recognition (MasterCard 'Selfie Pay' coming to Australia in 2017). However, this could also be as simple as to use someone’s e-banking credentials, phone number (SMS Code) or similar.
    The problem here is not the authentication options, the problem is how to bring your new form of authentication to the POS. There is a range of options that can be pursued. The most obvious one would be using a mobile app. The challenge is to create a simple transaction process and to gain acceptance, see below.
  2. Acceptance Problem
    If we are to keep a similar level of security, we have to introduce a solution to point 1. This means changing the current payment process.
    How do you compete with a process that is already widely accepted, used all over the world, secure, trusted and most of all, fairly simple?
    The fact that I can buy a drink in Europe with my Australian card using the same process is hard to compete with. Say an issuer or acquirer in Australia introduces a new payment instrument, taking this to a global stage is a completely different challenge.
    And why is Apple Pay adoption sluggish? The answer to this is probably that consumers only change their habits if they see a benefit, or if the process is remarkably simpler. This article by Karen Webster makes total sense to me: What Walmart Pay Knows That Apple Pay Doesn’t


What does this mean for an acquirer/issuer that wants to disrupt?

Challenging the existing process with a generic and new payment instrument seems to be a bold step that is probably expensive and likely to fail. However, financial institutions that are acquirers and issuers could profit from an existing client/merchant base. This is an advantage they have over the myriad of FinTech startups out there (the ones they don’t already own).

Leveraging this potential and, for example creating a proprietary installment and small credit program, would enable a new revenue stream while providing a benefit to the cardholders. A neat integration with the existing merchants for in-store payments would certainly increase adoption.

This avenue seems to be more likely to succeed.

What are your thoughts?

Samsung Pay

Comments: (4)

Robert Smith
Robert Smith - Bank of America Merchant - Coral Springs 04 October, 2017, 18:35Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Would you consider First Data Clover Mini & Mobile, Flex a pin on glass device? If so these devices been on the market for sometime now.

Martin Gloor
Martin Gloor - Abrantix Pty Ltd - Sydney 04 October, 2017, 23:35Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

@Robert: Yes. Indeed such devices have been out for a while, also here in Australia. What will be new is the fact that pin on glass might become available on consumer devices. Clover is what I would still call a regular payment terminal that meets all the security standards. However, Square for example are pushing for a solution that allows pin entry on any mobile phone or tablet. So there is no more special hardware security. They intend to secure the whole solution in a different way. This can be a game changer as that renders the regular payment terminals of today unnecessary.

Robert Smith
Robert Smith - Bank of America Merchant - Coral Springs 04 October, 2017, 23:40Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

@martin Gloor: Got it. Pin on Glass for consumer device will be a game changer. That would also be a plus for Clover GO also.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 05 October, 2017, 12:29Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

I enjoyed reading your blog, and wholeheartedly agree that PIN on Mobile will be soon be much more widely available. Mobile point of sale volumes are still growing rapidly; a market that was estimated to be worth just under $15bn globally last year is predicted to be worth more than three times that amount by 2023.


As you may know, PCI SSC is expected to openly publish its PIN on Mobile payment standard by the end of the year, which is a significant and welcome development in the evolution of global smart phone and tablet based payment acceptance.


The security of the international card payments industry has long benefited from the implementation of PCI standards, as have consumers. We believe this new PIN on Mobile standard will open up the benefits of mobile payment technology for businesses of all sizes. It will also help to realise the massive untapped potential of consumer off the shelf (COTS) devices to grow merchant acceptance and transactional volumes.  This low cost alternative to the traditional terminal will likely be welcomed globally by innovative retailers big and small.

 David Poole, MYPINPAD, Canary Wharf


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