North American Bancard Blog

Unattended Payment Solutions – What You Need to Know

Posted by Nancy Bakanowicz on

payment kioskUnattended payment kiosks are nothing new – they’ve been in parking lots and parking meters for several years, and even in some places like grocery stores (self-checkout lanes) and department stores (Macy’s self-service eSpot sells Apple iPods and iPads, Canon digital cameras and more). However, when they accept card payments they are rarely EMV- or NFC-enabled, and many, like those in parking environments, often only accept cash. The lack of EMV and NFC acceptance has been one of the knocks on the payment kiosks (aside from the fact that anything purchased at Macy’s eSpot cannot be returned to the store). This is beginning to change, and it is expected that an increasing number of unattended payment kiosks across several industries, including retail, health care and transportation, will be able to accept EMV payment cards and NFC payments very soon.

If you are considering purchasing new EMV and NFC ready unattended payment kiosks for your business, or if you already have them, below are a few things to think about before installing unattended POS terminals or upgrading to new ones:

EMV

It’s been a year since the EMV liability shift, and while the initial push was to get merchants to comply with the new standards, unattended environments are not immune to the standards. As consumers’ old magstripe credit cards are gradually replaced with EMV chip cards, and they become more used to using them and understand the benefits in terms of security, they will come to expect the same experiences when checking out at a kiosk, vending machine, or other self-service payments devices. Owners of unattended payment kiosks will benefit from upgrading their technology to accept EMV cards in the same way as other merchants – EMV will help guard them against credit card fraud, too. Regardless of whether the fraud occurs in a manned or unmanned payment device, if the merchant is not EMV compliant, the responsibility falls on the merchant.

While this quote from the Smart Card Alliance’s “EMV and Parking” report specifically mentions unattended parking kiosks, it can apply to unattended kiosks in just about any situation: “To implement contactless payments from NFC-enabled mobile devices, the parking POS system must have the hardware and software needed to accept contactless EMV chip payments. It is advisable for merchants to evaluate their options and requirements before making such upgrades. Many merchant facilities have decided to implement POS solutions that are both contactless/NFC-enabled and contact EMV-enabled. This approach can involve the addition of contactless readers to entrance and exit lanes. When planning an upgrade, parking owners should request devices that can communicate with both contactless chip cards and NFC-enabled mobile devices.”

NFC

NFC, or near-field communications, are gaining in popularity as more people purchase smartphones which often come with Apple Pay, Android Pay or Samsung Pay preinstalled. As consumer demand for NFC use grows, unattended payment solutions must adapt to the way people want to pay. If you’re a business owner with unattended POS, you would benefit greatly – and be viewed as someone who is ahead of the curve – by upgrading your equipment to accept NFC payments. It’s probably not a stretch to think that at some point in the not too distant future, NFC will become as ubiquitous as credit cards are now, so why not get ready for that day today?

Security

Unattended payment kiosks must meet the same security standards as regular POS or mPOS systems. Customers need to know when they make their payments or purchases via kiosk or vending machine that the transaction is every bit as safe and secure as one made at an attended station. Of particular concern are the vending machines at which customers can purchase big-ticket items, such as tablets, smartphones and pharmaceuticals, and they want to know that their data is safe when making their purchases. Fortunately, as with standard POS systems, many unattended kiosks include security measures such as point-to-point encryption (P2PE) and tokenization, both of which help protect customers’ card data and keep it out of the hands of hackers and fraudsters.

Durability

Considering many unattended payment kiosks are outside, exposed to the elements 24/7, it is no wonder these units need to be durable. And it’s not just the weather and its whims – these units are used by thousands of people, often on a daily basis. It is imperative that the materials used to manufacture the kiosks be able to withstand the weather, dust, liquids and the frequent usage, while also being strong enough to anything that could potentially damage the interior mechanisms without diminishing the security and usability. A great example would be fuel station “pay at the pump” systems – most of the time, the screen is easy to read and the buttons function but every once in a while there is a pump that looks as if it’s seen better days, with a barely readable screen and keys that have had the numbers worn off. Businesses that use these kiosks must frequently inspect their units for such wear and repair or replace as necessary.

While predominantly used in parking situations, unattended payment kiosks have many uses across several retail applications. It should be no surprise to see them being used in more situations. Merchants and customers alike can be sure that they are every bit as safe and secure as standard POS systems, and once upgraded to accept EMV and NFC payments, they will function the same, as well. Thanks to unattended payment kiosks, customers have the convenience of being able to pay for goods and services at anytime and anywhere, and that can only be a good thing for the payments industry.

Topics: payments

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