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April 15, 2015

CBA goes live with Albert

It’s been a long few months: in July 2012, Commonwealth Bank of Australia announced plans to launch an innovative payment tablet dubbed ‘Albert’ with the aim of improving the electronic payments landscape.

By Verdict Staff

It’s been a long few months: in July 2012, Commonwealth Bank of Australia announced plans to launch an innovative payment tablet dubbed ‘Albert’ with the aim of improving the electronic payments landscape.

Albert was essentially a hybrid between an EFTPOS terminal and a consumer tablet -and according to CBA at the time, it was on target to launch to market within a ‘few months’.

Fast forward over two years and Albert is about to go live.

The idea of Albert is to get sales staff out from behind the till and able to serve customers and take payments on the shop floor.Retailers can integrate their existing POS software and inventory systems into the payment processing function on Albert, or use apps to handle the sale.

There are of course already apps that can process payments on Apple and Android tablets and smartphones but according to CBA, Albert features a tablet that has been custom built for taking payments and is manufactured with a slot where customers insert a card and a chip reader.

Customers can enter their PIN through an encrypted keypad on the touchscreen.

A JV between design consultancy IDEO and manufactured by Wincor Nixdorf, Albert offers threefold innovation.

Firstly, retailers from different industries can operate precisely those POS applications they need for their business on the mobile device. Secondly, the device can handle standard payment methods that are compliant with PCI requirements – by EMV chip and PIN, swipe and sign, or NFC communication. And thirdly, Albert is connected to an app store from where the retailers can download apps tailored to their business.

It remains to be seen if the optimistic soundbites currently being pitched with evangelical zeal by Wincor’s PRs – "its potential is limitless and is set to revolutionise the point of sale experience" – but it certainly is going to be worth watching how Albert progresses.There is certainly a case for a more powerful, open platform which can adapt to changing customer needs, and provide real-time analytics and business insights.

The market is however likely to become even more crowded: expect to see rival tablet and smartphone apps competing head-on with Albert.

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