Exploring the historical past of point-of-sale units and requirements

By Ron Carter, Government Vice President of EMV® at Cryptomathic  

Exploring the history of point-of-sale devices and standards

Ron Carter

The rise of contactless cell funds is effectively documented, and consultants anticipate this pattern to proceed its present trajectory. In keeping with Juniper, the overall variety of distinctive contactless cell cost customers will attain one billion for the primary time in 2024.   

Every cell cost requires some type of point-of-sale (POS) system to finish a transaction. But the POS system just isn’t solely there to allow seamless transactions, it additionally hosts safety measures that guarantee a protected atmosphere for purchasers to make purchases. These measures are important for stopping unauthorized entry, mitigating cost fraud, and lowering the danger of cost card info theft or fraud.   

The rise of SoftPOS know-how has ushered a transition away from conventional, purpose-built {hardware} POS units. SoftPOS leverages each software program and {hardware} to allow smartphones to behave as POS units. But issues persist about smartphones being a way more enticing, and simpler, goal for cybercriminals.   

This requires us to evolve our POS safety practices. The event of full requirements for cell acceptance has taken a while, however now the Fee Card Trade’s (PCI) new customary and compliance program for Cellular Funds on Industrial off-the-shelf units (MPoC) affords a supportive compliance framework for SoftPOS builders.  

The evolution of POS units  

Initially, point-of-sale (POS) units have been standalone and designed for the aim: safe cost transactions. The units have been sealed, solely ran devoted software program from the producer, and built-in all essential security measures.  

These POS units, whereas safe, have been costly and solely served a singular goal. Retailers wished extra flexibility in acceptance, comparable to providing loyalty schemes or various types of cost.  

Because of this, some distributors constructed {hardware} platforms that ran a variant of Android because the working system, enabling an application-based strategy. This made the supply of integrations and performance within the type of apps simpler, assembly retailers’ need for flexibility in acceptance and integration into their programs.   

From a safety perspective, this strategy ensured all the required safety {hardware} however concurrently introduced software program safety to the fore, particularly when associated to the cohabitation of apps.   

The event of Android tablets offered fascinating prospects and led to the creation of dongle-type units (separate to the pill) that accepted cost playing cards and enabled the entry of a cardholder PIN.     

But, with the rise of contactless funds and elevated assist for NFC on cell units, the demand for bodily card acceptance diminished, in favor of a contactless expertise. It was this growth that offered the chance for cell POS to turn out to be a actuality. Initially, PIN entry was not attainable on a cell system. This was inconvenient for retailers, who needed to discover different methods to simply accept PIN entry. As know-how developed, it turned attainable to enter a PIN by way of the cell system, however safety issues endured about coming into a PIN right into a cell phone, particularly if the cardboard particulars have been out there. There was additionally no customary for PIN entry on cell units, creating potential safety dangers.   

Nonetheless, the PCI Safety Requirements Council (PCI SSC) has now launched the PCI MPoC, an entire cell cost customary. This customary is an amalgamation of pre-existing requirements and helps all contactless card acceptance when utilizing a industrial off-the-shelf (COTS) system, together with the flexibility to carry out PIN entry.   

This marks an enormous growth in creating protected, safe, and open requirements for cell level of sale compliance, however how did we get right here?  

A timeline of POS Requirements   

April 2018 – PCI SPoC (Software program-Primarily based on PIN Entry on COTS)  

This safety customary, initially launched in April 2018, permits retailers to simply accept PIN-based funds utilizing COTS cell units, comparable to smartphones and tablets. The SPoC customary supplies a safe atmosphere for coming into PINs and encryption of delicate cost information, making certain the safety of cardholder info throughout transactions.  

The PIN is entered on the system, however a dongle (SCRP, Safe Card Reader – PIN) performs the cardboard acceptance and performs the PIN encryption.   

December 2019 – PCI CPoC (Contactless Funds on COTS) 

Particularly for transactions under the contactless restrict that don’t require PIN, this customary removes the necessity for an SCRP for contactless transactions. PCI CPoC is a safety customary that permits retailers to simply accept contactless funds by playing cards, telephones and wearable units, utilizing industrial off-the-shelf units comparable to smartphones and tablets.   

2020 – PIN on Glass Certification (by Mastercard and Visa)  

Whereas PCI CPoC eliminated the necessity for a SCRP for lower-valued contactless transactions, the arrival of the PIN on Glass Certification eliminated the necessity for a SCRP for higher-valued contactless funds. Particularly, Mastercard and Visa created a normal that enabled coming into a cardholder PIN on the touchscreen show of a service provider’s telephone or pill.  

November 2022 – PCI MPoC (Cellular Funds on COTS)  

Lastly, the PCI MPoC customary brings collectively the entire preexisting requirements and delivers an entire Cellular Fee Normal that defines a lot of architectures and safety necessities. Contactless card acceptance, together with the flexibility to carry out PIN entry, is enabled utilizing only a COTS system, whereas acceptance of chip and magstripe playing cards might be carried out utilizing an SCRP.   

Whereas the historical past of POS requirements just isn’t very lengthy, the developments achieved in a comparatively quick time period point out an awesome potential to adapt to buyer, service provider and vendor wants. As we more and more shift in the direction of a cashless society, it’s due to this fact important that cell funds, cell apps and cell level of sale units are safe.  


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