The Commonwealth Bank has today launched their new Point of Sale software system called Pi, it’s an open system which will run apps created by merchants and developers which, once approved by the Commonwealth Bank will be published through their own appstore called AppBank. So far the Commonwealth Bank has a couple of functions which run on the Pi system, such as a split the bill application which would allow customers at a cafe to split a bill into custom amounts based on what each member of the party consumed, they are also talking about other uses for apps running on Pi, such as an inventory system or loyalty rewards program where discounts would be pushed to customers via their smart phone.
The Pi system will run on a 7″ tablet called ‘Albert’ which has some pretty cool hardware built in to it, which based on the specs alone I wouldn’t mind one just as an Android tablet for general use, however it seems that the Pi interface will be the one running on it and as it’s designed to meet PCI-PTS 3.x a global security standard I’d say it’s pretty secure.
- 1280×800 multi-touch screen.
- 1GB RAM and 16GB Flash Memory.
- 8MP Camera.
- EMV chip and PIN interface for contactless payments.
- NFC Reader for coupons and wallet.
- Magnetic stripe reader.
- 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity and option for ethernet.
- OS is based on Android 4.0 and runs Pi
The Commonwealth Bank will also offering a solution which attaches to iOS devices called ‘Leo’ which would run the Pi system and would bypass the need for stores to purchase the ‘Albert’ tablet if they have a compatible device. The Albert device will be certified over the next year with availability expected in Q2 2013 depending on how the certification process goes.
It would be interesting to find out if the system could run on other Android tablets if Google gave the Commonwealth Bank access to the NFC Hardware that they have been so far unsuccessful in accessing, I’ve asked but had no reply from the Commonwealth Bank, this is another bump in the road for NFC adoption in Australia and Google probably needs to either help or get out of the way because they don’t seem keen to offer Google Wallet here so they should be letting other vendors do it if they’re interested.
The concept looks pretty good to me, however as a custom system it’s success will be dependent on developers creating applications for it. One of the problems of any new software system is attracting developers to write apps for the system and so far there hasn’t been much information on how these developers would monetise the investment of time and skills into getting such an app onto the Pi system, still it’s good to see the Commonwealth Bank using Android even if only as a tablet to run their system. Business’s can register their interest at the Commonwealth Bank Pi website.