USA Technologies (NASDAQ: USAT), ("USAT"), a leader of wireless, cashless payment and M2M telemetry solutions for small-ticket, self-serve retailing industries, has completed an upgrade to its ePort Connect service platform-an action aimed to support USAT's growing base of customers and the next generation of services and emerging M2M applications, such as mobile marketing and mobile payment.
The customer-facing portion of the upgrade launched this week, with new features and functionality added to its web-based customer data portal, USALive.
"This next generation upgrade really revitalizes USA Technologies' platform for service delivery," said Stephen P. Herbert, Chairman and CEO of USA Technologies. "We expanded our capacity for growth by moving to industry-leading computing infrastructure, and made important upgrades to proprietary and third party software that improve system performance and our ability to efficiently scale. We also improved card user experience, cutting approximate authentication times—from swipe to approval—in half.
"In addition, users of our cloud-based data reporting system will see an improved USALive that is easier to navigate, customize and automate for faster access to valuable information to manage their businesses. Finally, we made what we believe to be important enhancements to our ePort Connect service infrastructure that set the stage for new forms of revenue growth—from the hosting of more third party hardware to expanded services that stem from the emerging trends in M2M applications and NFC mobile payment," said Herbert.
The upgrade incorporates the latest in network server technology in addition to proprietary software development that markedly increases capacity and allows USA Technologies to seamlessly "add on" capacity as USAT's connected service base expands. Recently, USA Technologies reported preliminary data for the quarter ended 3/31/2012 that indicated its connected service base had grown to 148,000 cashless and M2M connections—double what it was two years ago.
In addition, the upgrade enhances the ease with which a greater variety of third party devices can connect to USAT's ePort Connect service. Today, devices from some of the biggest vending machine and kiosk manufacturers in the business network to ePort Connect, including MEI, Crane Merchandising Systems and AMI Entertainment Network.
Users of USAT's customer reporting portal noted an improved user interface earlier this week.
Among the enhancements introduced were:
- Faster and more customizable (user-defined) reporting capabilities;
- New "look-up" capabilities to make it easier to search;
- Additional analytical data for logistics and inventory decisions aimed at saving smaller businesses the expense of investing in an additional reporting system;
- DEX transfer can now be made immediately, or triggered at a pre-determined time when an operator requires it, for added convenience. For example, USA Technologies will have the capability to send machine health alerts directly from a machine to an operator via email or another server using SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol); and,
- Anticipated in 30 days, the opportunity to have MDB (multidrop bus) alerts added for better payment device diagnostics for bill acceptors and coin acceptors.
"We connected with our customers and are delivering what they asked for—speed, more information to help them better serve their customers and stay competitive, and finally, the ability to stay in front of emerging consumer trends. In short, we believe that we needed a robust and adaptable next generation ePort Connect service platform that could readily respond to the needs of our customers while enabling new capacity for growth. Our recently introduced Two-Tier Pricing Program, which includes the ability to assign discount cash prices to individual machines via over-the-air updates, is a great example of that adaptability. Going forward, we believe it will be the platform that will help us capture the many opportunities emerging in mobile marketing and mobile payments—prepaid, loyalty, couponing and others," said Herbert.
ePort Connect is a PCI-compliant, end-to-end suite of cashless payment and telemetry services specially tailored to fit the needs of the small ticket, self-service retail industries. Services offered through ePort Connect currently include payment processing services (such as wireless connectivity, online sales reporting through USALive, settlement, over-the-air updates), remote DEX data management and machine health alerts. Recently, USAT has added two-tier pricing to this suite of services.