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  • Thierry Spanjaard

PIN on Glass to end the mPOS era

Many technologies, when they start, are actually a trigger for the most creative minds to start and invent applications. From the beginning of NFC, many of us thought NFC handsets were not only a good solution to emulate a payment card but also to emulate a POS terminal.

A handset with an NFC interface seemed a perfect device to read a contactless card! Unfortunately, there was obstacles on the way! Payment terminal security is not easy to transfer in an insecure handset. One wants to make sure payment card details are taken care of securely, a payment transaction cannot be tampered with and cannot give way to repudiation. The arrival of mPOS a few years ago, already demonstrated payment security can be conducted on the server side instead of the payment terminal itself.

Actually, it took years to get there! Payment terminals require security that was not originally delivered by smartphones. For years, PCI SSC (the PCI Security Standards Council) issued specifications requiring a secure PINpad to type a PIN needed for a transaction. Only in 2018 has it become acceptable for PCI to use a smartphone screen as a PINpad, thanks to a new PCI specification for Software-based PIN Entry on COTS (SPoC) Solutions for merchants that enable EMV® contact and contactless transactions with PIN entry on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) devices, such as tablets and smartphones.

This year, companies of all sizes are rushing for the opportunity to propose solutions using PIN on Glass or PoG (also called PIN on Mobile - PoM) to accept payments without adding extra hardware. While the first offers came from startups such as MyPinPAD or Yello, or mPOS vendors like Square, Ingenico is now announcing its PIN on Glass solution combining a hardware EMV card reader with a mobile PIN entry application running on the merchant’s handset.

There is no doubt that many small merchants will be happy to get payments directly on their smart phones, without needing to add a card reader.

Once these solutions get widely spread, the idea of adding hardware on a smartphone to read a payment card will become a thing of the past!

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