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EPoS Systems in 2019: 4 Critical Features you Must Look for

Electronic Point of Sale (EPoS) plays an important role for payments and inventory management in shops, restaurants and other retail outlets. It is a computerized system with hardware, combined with public and secure software. EPoS serves a variety of purposes, such as recording sales, updating stock levels, and making accurate pricing available for faster transactions. It also helps to constantly update the inventory for sales, accounting and marketing.

A typical EPoS device contains a system that includes a bar code reader, weighing scale and receipt block with payment terminal.

Figure 1. A typical EPoS terminal with payment system
Figure 1. A typical EPoS terminal with payment system

The PoS (Point of Sale) technology has evolved with time, maturing from a basic payment system. Modern systems boast of an array of features related to inventory management, and more features continue to be added based on specific business demands. The recent EPoS systems are capable of recording a large amount of data, which helps to run the business more efficiently.

The recorded information assists in stock management. Processing the data helps to reveal insights into the top performing or even low performing products – information that can be leveraged to improve the efficiency of managing supplies.

Although, today EPoS systems are quite mature, there is definitely a rising demand for next level usability and security. EPoS systems should be extremely complex to prevent any break-ins by an intruder, and at the same time, should be easy enough to operate by a store clerk. For this, the system needs to support these critical features:

1. Contactless payments

Contactless payment is an emerging technology for EPoS. It enables a faster way to pay with the cards for purchases at participating stores. This offers significant advantages for shops, restaurants and other retail outlets by speeding up the transaction process. This type of payment system is most suitable for drive-through services like gas stations, parking facilities, public transit services, and all types of ticket kiosks.

Figure 2. A Contactless payment technology
Figure 2. A Contactless payment technology

Contactless Payment enables faster transactions as it avoids swiping cards, entering a PIN or using any other manual processes. Instead of dipping (or swiping) card on the merchant terminal, the customers can simply wave or tap the card on the contactless enabled terminal for a hassle free exit.

How contactless payment works

Contactless payment is a secure method for consumers to purchase products via smartcards by using Near-Field Communication (NFC). It requires a wireless information exchange between the consumer’s payment device and the payment terminal.

There are different technologies to enable contactless payment. Each technology has trade-offs that affect the feasibility and effectiveness of the process. The simplest form – RF-based technology –includes contactless smart cards, transponders, Bluetooth-enabled devices and carrier-based mobile solutions. The primary contactless payment technologies include high frequency and low frequency used for retail SpeedPass and ultra-high-frequency RF used for road toll applications.

As contactless payments do not require signature or PIN, all transactions on the card are limited to a specific amount. The amount for these transactions varies by country and bank. When a user taps the card against a contactless payment enabled terminal, the details get transferred from the card to the terminal and the payments get processed in a secure manner.

Advantages of contactless payment

  • Contactless cards make payments more convenient as users do not need to enter your PIN for transactions and SpeedPass for time saving
  • The card does not leave the hand when making payments
  • Contactless technology uses secure encryption (the same used in a CHIP and PIN card) so it can be used confidently
  • Card cloning is impossible as the data is stored in an encrypted form

2. Multilayer tamper-proof design

In today’s Internet-of-things (IoT) infrastructure, security threats have become a major concern for electronic device manufacturers. The tightly coupled hardware and software-embedded devices are more prone to a data breach at different levels. Hence, the need for multi-level protection has increased more than ever before. As we are dealing with financial devices, a larger number of security features need to be taken into consideration during product development.

AM43x-based EPOS devices are enabled with physical protection as well as logical protections with Secure Standard boot at the software level. This separation at two levels is very much essential in applications such as point-of-sale equipment. What levels are security being essential? Let’s take a look at some key aspects:

Secure boot

Secure boot outlines the procedure for helping designers validate encrypted Tamper Qualifying State Machine software to prevent unauthorized users from stealing code and overwriting the Flash with unauthorized software.

Enclosure (tamper) protection

The system enclosure can be designed using different mechanisms, but the most reliable method is a wire mesh and spring loaded open/close switches. Figure 3 shows the AM43x based tamper proof solution for an enclosure protection sample module, which integrates enclosure protection capabilities.

Figure 3. Tamper Proof enclosure for secure devices
Figure 3. Tamper Proof enclosure for secure devices

Cryptography support

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The cryptographic hardware processor helps to load the encrypted code from the device’s flash memory with verification of its authenticity. Many cryptographic algorithms are supported for this device, including Advance Encryption Standard (AES). The encryption/decryption keys will be stored in secure RAM, and so the security will be robust. The secure keys can pre-programmed or can be randomly generated at the operating time.

3. RFID technology

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is the latest technology for EPoS. RFID helps to manage the assets at the actual time, hence it helps to use inventory management system efficiently. This is very helpful in healthcare, wholesale, retail and SpeedPass payment systems.

How RFID works

This technology contains an RFID reader and a unit with RFID embedded tag or chip. RFID works on the principle of radio signal. The RFID reader is capable of capturing and decoding radio signals sent by an RFID tag or chip. RFID tags can be active or passive, depending on the use case. The active tags are battery supported and the signal range is strong enough to operate at a long distance. Passive tags work without power and hence have a limited operating range.

Figure 4. RFID TAG for product
Figure 4. RFID TAG for product

Advantages of RFID

  • RFID tags can be placed inside the product, which makes it safer than surface barcodes
  • Faster reading time than traditional methods
  • RFID tags are re-usable
  • Easy to store, maintain and apply the RFID tag

4. Lowest power consumption

The power consumption is a major factor in EPoS device selection criteria as most of the EPoS devices are battery operated. The operating power is directly proportional to the cost and size of the power storage as well as the end product. The recent power management frameworks for handheld devices support DeepSleep and Real Time Clock (RTC) power modes.

DeepSleep power mode

This is a suspend/resume cycle. The DeepSleep mode triggers device suspend operation automatically, if the device is inactive for pre-defined time. Wake-up events, such as console UART/Keypad or touch screen, which helps to resume the system. This helps to improve the battery performance and life.

Real-time clock (RTC) power mode

The Real Time Clock (RTC) mode is designed to reduce the power consumption of battery operated devices. If the device is inactive for a certain length of duration, it puts the device into RTC mode. The system wakeup from RTC-only mode can be done by the external power-on button.

Conclusion

eInfochips, an Arrow Company, along with Texas Instruments, provides AM43x platform-based solution for EPoS. eInfochips EPoS SDK provides the baseline for EPoS emerging features with great reliability. This next generation EPoS system offers dynamic additional features such as contactless payments, multi-layer tamper proof design, RFID technology and unique on demand power consumption with operating voltage and frequency scaling.

At eInfochips, we offer a wide range of connected retail services and solutions than can help your organization achieve the goal of digital transformation. Please get in touch with us to learn how exactly we can help you maximize the opportunities offered by digital transformation technologies.

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