Pi is CommBank's new POS software platform

Pi is CommBank's new POS software platform

The Commonwealth Bank has today unveiled a new point-of-sale (POS) platform, called Pi

The Commonwealth Bank has today unveiled a new point-of-sale (POS) platform and launched two devices that run the software.

CommBank Pi is a new, open software platform designed for point-of-sale use. The software will enable third-party developers to create applications to tailor the POS experience.

The apps will be distributed through the bank's secure AppBank platform and can be used on a touchscreen POS terminal called Albert.

Described as an "omni-commerce device", Albert features a magnetic stripe for swiping credit cards, an EMV chip reader, and can process contactless payments through Near Field Communication (NFC).

The Albert terminal has a 7in touchscreen and comes standard with 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity, though direct Ethernet connectivity will be an optional extra.

In addition to Albert, CommBank's Pi platform will also run on Leo, a case that attaches to an iPod touch, iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S and transforms the device into a merchant terminal.

The Leo case includes an EMV chip reader and a magnetic stripe for reading and swiping credit cards and can process contactless payments.

"What we've done is create an ecosystem, at the core of the ecosystem is Pi, but what we can build on top of Pi is any app you can imagine," said Commonwealth Bank's Executive General Manager of Corporate Banking Solutions, Kelly Bayer Rosmarin. It's not just third parties, it's our customers themselves who can now tailor this point of sale experience to their own brand."

The Pi platform and both the Albert and Leo devices have been designed to the user experience when making POS purchases.

"We looked at the experience it is currently and decided that there was lots of room for improvement." We spoke to consumers and business and we found there was a big disconnect in the experience customers are having and what they would like to have."

Albert will come with a range of applications designed by Commonwealth Bank including a bill splitting app and an app that allows users to redeem voucher codes.

The Albert device is manufactured by Wincor Nixdorf, a German based producer of terminal devices including banking systems, POS systems and self-checkout solutions. There will be two models available, one with a printer to produce sale receipts and one without.

Leo is targeted particularly at tradies or other small businesses who wish to use a more efficient payment system when doing mobile business, while Albert is positioned at businesses like clothing retailers or restaurants who will not necessarily need to travel.

The Albert POS device won't be officially available until 2013, while the Leo case is currently in testing and is expected to be available to merchants next month.

Pricing hasn't been announced, but Commonwealth Bank says the cost of installing the new devices will be "similar to existing merchant installation".

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