Apple Upgrading EasyPay, Changing Hardware

May 9, 2014

Apple is rolling out a major upgrade to the point-of-sale (POS) devices that retail store employees use to process purchases, including redesigned software, a move from the iPod touch to iPhone 5s, and a major switch in vendors for the hardware device. The new EasyPay devices will support the chip-and-pin (EMV) technology that major credit card companies will begin using in the U.S. next year to avoid fraud and security breaches, along with NFC features, enhanced barcode and mag-stripe reading, and a physical PIN entry pad. As first reported by 9to5Mac, select stores are using the new devices now, and a full roll-out will occur over the next few weeks. The current EasyPay models were introduced in late 2009, first appearing at the Carousel du Louvre (Paris) store grand opening. The device used an iPod touch integrated with an Infinite Peripherals Inc. Linea Pro 5 “sled” to provide magnetic-stripe and 1D/2D barcode reading. The new devices are made by VeriFone Systems Inc., a public company headquartered in San Jose (Calif.) and once owned by Hewlett-Packard. They are a major player in the transaction processing industry with $1.7 billion in 2013 sales, and a one-third global POS device market share. Interest in the company has increased in the wake of recent credit card security breaches, including at Target and the move to chip-and-pin credit cards. Apple will use the company’s Payware Mobile e315 model with an iPhone 5s, which is nearly as compact as the current Linea Pro device and only one ounce heavier. The device costs about $700 in single quantities. The stores will also use a companion Verfone frame that fits the iPad for POS duties. Signficantly, the VeriFone device supports NFC contactless transactions, a technology that many consumers have dreamed of having in a future iPhone model. Now, having NFC in an EasyPay raises the possibility that one day a customer with an iPhone could make a purchase at the Apple store by simply touching it to an EasyPay device. Download (pdf) the device’s specification sheet.

The Verfone e315 device appears slightly thicker than the current Linea-Pro device, but otherwise is nearly as compact. At the end is a 1D/2D barcode reader via laser.

The rear of the device features a PIN entry pad and an LCD verification screen, and an NFC contactless entry point (above the screen). The PIN pad will allow customers to enter debit card PINs without having to walk to a entry terminal somewhere in the store. At the bottom of the device is the chip-and-pin card insertion slot.

The side of the device includes a magnetic stripe reader. Out of sight is an EMV landing connector that reads chip-and-pin transaction cards.

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