Why Ziosk Put EMV in Its Bat­ter­ies

The process of up­grad­ing to EMV can be dif­fi­cult and cum­ber­some. Ziosk didn’t want its clients to give up their old de­vices, so it found a cre­ative al­ter­na­tive.

ISO & Agent - - INSIDE 07/08.2017 - BY DAVID HEUN

Faced with the com­plex task of up­grad­ing restau­rants’ POS tablets for EMV, Ziosk came up with an un­con­ven­tional so­lu­tion: Just swap out the bat­ter­ies.

Up­grad­ing a mo­bile point of sale de­vice de­vel­oped in the magstripe era to EMV could be a has­sle for the mer­chant and the ven­dor alike.

Or it could be as sim­ple as re­plac­ing the bat­tery.

Ziosk didn’t want to risk alien­at­ing or los­ing cus­tomers of its tablet-based mo­bile point of sale sys­tem by urg­ing them to up­grade to EMV. Its so­lu­tion was ad­mit­tedly un­con­ven­tional.

“We didn’t want to bring all of those tablets back for up­grad­ing or have to send our engi­neers out in the field,” Ziosk CEO Austen Mulin­der said. “We had to do an in-mar­ket up­grade, and ev­ery­one looked at me like I was crazy, but our team worked it out.”

Its so­lu­tion is a “smart bat­tery,” which is sim­ply a trim­mer bat­tery with EMV and NFC ac­cep­tance hard­ware at­tached to it.

This new bat­tery can be popped into the same tablets that Ziosk’s restau­rant clients have used for years. For new­com­ers, it’s also launch­ing the Ziosk Aur­i­zon, which has EMV and NFC ac­cep­tance built into a smaller, thin­ner model of its hard­ware.

Ziosk serves clients like Olive Gar­den, Chili’s and Red Robin, which can now start ac­cept­ing EMV cards and con­tact­less pay­ments at the ta­ble with­out chang­ing their pro­ce­dures.

Over­all, the restau­rant in­dus­try has been slow to move to EMV pay­ment ac­cep­tance, due to con­cerns over how to im­ple­ment a pay-at-the-ta­ble model while also ques­tion­ing the ex­tent of the se­cu­rity value EMV brings to their en­vi­ron­ment.

Along­side these con­cerns come a height­ened at­ten­tion to EMV al­ter­na­tives, such as order-ahead apps.

Ziosk’s so­lu­tion elim­i­nates some of the risk that its clients will see the EMV mi­gra­tion as a rea­son to con­sider other ven­dors, said Richard Oglesby, pres­i­dent of AZ Pay­ments Group and a se­nior an­a­lyst at Dou­ble Di­a­mond Pay­ments Re­search.

“Be­ing able to retro­fit a hard­ware so­lu­tion on ex­ist­ing hard­ware and mak­ing it so user friendly that the busi­ness owner can do it them­selves with a built-in bat­tery — that’s just smart,” Oglesby said. “They’ve solved the fact that cur-

rent Ziosk de­vices don’t have EMV, so this is big for them.”

Even though Ziosk launched its magstripe tablet be­fore an EMV mi­gra­tion time­line was in place, the com­pany is not view­ing that tim­ing as any type of set­back, Mulin­der said.

Mostly, Ziosk has ben­e­fited from the ex­tra time it has had to de­velop the up­grade ca­pa­bil­ity and de­sign a new tablet to ac­cept all pay­ment forms.

“We have 200,000 de­vices out there, so mil­lions of hours of ex­pe­ri­ence has un­folded in what it is like to have a por­ta­ble, guest-fac­ing de­vice at the ta­ble in a restau­rant en­vi­ron­ment,” Mulin­der added.

“We are now per­fect­ing that tablet in all as­pects, tak­ing the ben­e­fit of our know-how and the me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing know-how of our part­ners,” he said.

It also makes Ziosk stand out in that it does not rely on clip-on or Blue­tooth­based ad­don read­ers for EMV, like some of its ri­vals do.

That’s a process Square went through with its sep­a­rate EMV reader that users must keep fully charged to op­er­ate through a wire­less con­nec­tion with a phone that would still have the magstripe reader plugged into a head­phone jack.

While Ziosk has been in busi­ness the past decade, its table­top POS de­vices have been in the mar­ket for about five years, with in­ter­est ris­ing in table­top POS tech­nol­ogy in the past three years, Mulin­der said.

The com­pany con­tin­ues to sep­a­rately sell point-to-point en­cryp­tion for its ter­mi­nals and op­er­ates as its own ac­quirer, not work­ing through re­sellers.

It will launch its new­est model slowly with test­ing in con­trolled mar­kets, as Ziosk in­tends to have a full launch later this year.

Ziosk cur­rently serves more than 3,000 restau­rant lo­ca­tions.

The com­pe­ti­tion for ta­ble-top POS de­vices will con­tinue to heat up, as more mer­chants and din­ers see the ben­e­fit in hav­ing table­top tablets that serve as both a pay­ment ac­cep­tance de­vice and as en­ter­tain­ment for pa­trons.

Ma­jor terminal and tech­nol­ogy providers like Ver­i­fone aren’t likely to sit on the side­lines as this mar­ket heats up for their ri­vals.

Ver­i­fone an­nounced re­cently that it was part­ner­ing with Ei­gen Devel­op­ment, a provider of point-to-point en­cryp­tion so­lu­tions, to en­able pay-at-the-ta­ble ser­vice and pay­ment pro­cess­ing for the Keg Steak­house & Bar restau­rants, com­mon in Canada and with lo­ca­tions in Ari­zona, Colorado, Texas and Wash­ing­ton in the U.S.

Other com­pa­nies are look­ing to de­velop point of sale busi­ness through table­top hard­ware in part be­cause restau­rants view the tablets as a cheaper op­tion that al­le­vi­ates many of the se­cu­rity con­cerns that arise when servers take cus­tomers’ pay­ment cards away from the ta­ble.

“The price points con­tinue to drop and the func­tion­al­ity con­tin­ues to in­crease,” Tim Sloane, direc­tor of emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies ad­vi­sory ser­vices for Bos­ton-based Mer­ca­tor Ad­vi­sory Group, said of the grow­ing trend in table­top pay­ments.

“It is in­evitable that we will all be go­ing to those mo­bile de­vices over time,” Sloane said.

Ziosk al­ready had a tablet well-suited for the restau­rant en­vi­ron­ment, and the abil­ity to up­grade and ac­cept all pay­ment types will help the com­pany and its clients as pay­ments tech­nol­ogy pro­gresses, Sloane said.

“Their so­lu­tion is cus­tom de­signed for those types of restau­rants and re­ally take into ac­count the op­er­a­tions in­side of a restau­rant,” Sloane said. “It is nicely tuned to the use case and de­liv­ers some in­ter­est­ing func­tion­al­ity, like a light on the tablet that alerts the con­sumer that the trans­ac­tion is done and they can leave.”

“Ev­ery­one looked at me like I was crazy, but our team worked it out,” said Ziosk CEO Austen Mulin­der.

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