Commonwealth Bank of Australia To Sell New Albert Payments Device To Global Banks

The Sydney Morning Herald: Commonwealth Bank of Australia expects tens of thousands of its new Albert point-of-sale devices to appear in Australian restaurants, cafes and retail stores, transforming payments and gathering richer data.Launching the new Albert device on Tuesday, CBA’s managing director of payments and cash management Gary Roach also confirmed the bank’s German technology partner Wincor Nixdorf would distribute the device internationally, creating a new revenue stream for the bank offshore.

“This is the start of a very exciting potential for that business,” Mr Roach said. “There are much larger acquirers in the world than we are, and I know Wincor Nixdorf are having discussions.”

The Albert is a wireless, seven-inch Android tablet with a touch screen, a secure EMV [Europay, MasterCard and Visa] interface for accepting chip and PIN cards, technology to enable contactless payments, a receipt printer, and 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity.

Mr Roach could not be specific about the number of Alberts that were available for customers or the timetable for the rollout, but said the bank ultimately expected to have “tens of thousands” deployed. Customers of CBA with enough cash turnover will be able to access the Albert devices as part of the bank’s existing merchant plans. David Jones and Amalgamated Holdings, which owns Rydges Hotels and Event Cinemas, are already onboard to use the device.

The Albert runs on an open-source platform and CBA expects external application developers to help merchants customise their customer experiences. CBA has developed eight apps that will come pre-loaded onto the device, including a cash counter and an app to split bills. Other apps will be developed by the bank along with merchants and third-party developers and made available through the CBA-controlled Pi App Bank. Some 800 developers have already registered to build apps for the device.

Entrepreneur Jonathan Barouch, the chief executive of Local Measure, which provides intelligence from social media for businesses, said he would use the Albert as a new channel for distribution of his reports, which could feed straight into the devices.

Dwayne Bonner, a CBA customer and the technical director for Earthling Investments, a petroleum product company based in Adelaide, said he would link the Albert into his enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and the data feedback to the company’s head office from the field would assist it monitoring its fleet of drivers.

Another customer, Foot Locker’s chief financial officer Tim Bentley, said the shoe retailer would use the device for its loyalty scheme via an app that would include access to its backend management system.

Because CBA first announced the expected rollout of the Albert almost three years ago, Mr Roach said on Tuesday: “It is fair to say the terminal has taken longer to develop than we would like, but we have consistently held the position that we are developing to quality, which we have done.” He said that building the secure hardware, operating system and payments platform had been more challenging than anticipated, as was the certification process, but “we are very confident it will be difficult for people to emulate what we have done”.

The proliferation of mobile devices has causedthe bank to launch its Leo and Emmy mobile point of sale devices during the time Albert has been developed. Mr Roach said the Albert device would allow businesses to “have at their fingertips an enormous wealth of data and you have to be across that data and develop insights so you can improve your transactions for your customers”.

“The most exciting part of it is not what it does today but the things it doesn’t do yet.”