Commonwealth Bank of Australia is to move into the mobile POS business with the release of its own point-of-sale tablet and iPhone attachment coupled with a new API developer portal
The Australian bank has partnered with Wincor Nixdorf and Ideo to build a seven-inch Android-based tablet device called Albert, featuring an interactive touchscreen, secure EMV pin interface, printer, and merchant terminal functionality. Albert is complemented by CommBank Leo, which transforms iPhones and iPod Touch devices into fully-functioning merchant terminals.
The new devices, which pit the bank against the likes of Square and Apple in the merchant hardware business, are supported by a new developer portal called CommBank PI, which provides a sandbox for custom-coding by merchants and third-party application developers. As with Apple, CommBank is exerting tight control over the ecosystem, with all apps subject to approval before they are released for use.
As part of the roll-out, the bank has also developed a range of CommBank PI applications, including the ability to split the bill between multiple people and payment methods.
Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, executive general manager of corporate banking solutions, Commonwealth Bank, says: "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 programme, using information on customer preferences, to offering a more personalised experience or checking stock - with Pi, the opportunities are limitless."
She says the bank was inspired to move into the market on the back of research which indicated widespread customer frustration with the high street shopping experience.
"We know businesses want to have richer relationships with their customers but have felt restricted in the ways they can do so," says Bayer Romarin. "Pi will help break down these barriers."
Albert will commence its certification this year, with expected general availability, depending on the time taken for final certification in Q2 2013. Leo is currently already in pilot and will be available to other businesses next month. Pi is available for developers to begin creating applications immediately.
CommBank's ambitions extend beyond its own shores, with the bank intent on pushing the hardware to the wider Asia Pacific market and Wincor Nixdorf covering the rest of the world.