Until recently, Apple smartphones would use QR codes in order to exchange data with POS terminals. However, Apple (iPhone 7, iOS 11 and beyond) now supports the reading of NFC Data Exchange Format (NDEF) messages. Noting that Android and Windows phones have supported this popular “NFC tag reading method” for some time, Apple’s development is significant in that it means there’s now a common means by which all smartphones can now interact with POS terminals. NDEF is suddenly an easy-to-use, easy-to-deploy “standardized” alternative to the traditional and rather challenging method of scanning QR codes at point of sale - whether in-store or on-mobile.
Rubean’s approach is to reverse the typical communication direction between POS terminal and customer phone :
Traditionally the POS terminal would read information from physical EMV cards or tokenized EMV cards on phones, whereas, with RubeanTag the phone reads information from the POS terminal.
When a customer (using an online payment app on ANY MAKE of smartphone running RubeanTag) holds their phone to the POS terminal to make payment, the following sequence happens …
- The POS terminal detects that the adjacent NFC device (the phone) is present but not providing any data.
- Which causes the POS terminal to switch to a “passive NFC tag” mode, whereby to provides payment data to the device. See below …
Thus RubeanTag defines a communication circle between POS terminal, customer phone and Payment Service Provider (PSP), where:
(A) in case of a mobile data connection
- Customer holds their smartphone (iPhone7+ or Android) to NFC capable POS terminal. Phone reads payment amount from terminal
- Customer checks payment amount on phone and confirms payment by fingerprint, whereupon the phone requests payment and (optionally) reports details to loyalty system
- Terminal finally receives the authorization result
(B) without mobile data connection
- Customer holds their smartphone (iPhone 7+ or Android) to NFC capable POS terminal. Phone reads payment amount and Bluetooth pairing credentials from terminal
- Customer checks payment amount on phone and confirms payment by fingerprint, whereupon the Phone establishes Bluetooth link with POS terminal and transmits payment order and (optionally) their loyalty data
- Terminal forwards data …
- … and finally receives the payment authorization result
In general, the implementation of the RubeanTag mobile payment method does not require any hardware amendments – only three specific software modules which can all be downloaded within routine software updates:
- Software Update to the POS terminal for an application which works outside of the EMV kernel, using a terminal API, which utilizes the underlying NXP PN512 hardware module supporting the ‘Passive NFC Target’ mode. Both the API driver and application can be distributed within a regular software update process
- Rubean SDK module: A middleware module in the smartphone which securely manages the transmission of payment data from the POS terminal to the online payment app on the phone. The middleware module can be distributed as part of a routine app update
- Workflow logic on a PSP server, managing the data flow to POS terminal, customer’s smartphone and customer’s bank.
RubeanTag enables retailers to extend the functionality of their existing loyalty apps to include payment functionality which will work with their existing POS NFC points.
- Payment would not be bound to any card scheme and could also be conducted as SEPA direct debit payment. The merchant would therefore avoid card scheme interchange fees and stands to benefit from lower transaction prices.
- If the merchant/retailer issues an app that combines payment with loyalty functionality, they can gather data for understanding customer behavior, tailoring personalized offerings, etc.
RubeanTag has been designed to support all kinds of online payment schemes on all makes of smartphone. This heralds a new era for mobile payments, introducing greater flexibility for customers around the World.
RubeanTag provides the simplest means by which customers can extend the use of their online payment apps to the merchants’ Check-out – It’s as simple as tapping the phone to the POS terminal.
- iPhone users from countries outside of ApplePay’s coverage who have (until now) been prevented from paying with their iPhone, will now be able to use their iPhone at check-outs across the Globe, thanks to RubeanTag.
- RubeanTag can also support loyalty and voucher programs. With this one particular phone-tap by which the customer pays at the POS NFC point, the customer could also collect loyalty points, spend a voucher and gain an overview of own expenses.
- Consumers will no longer have to look to see which particular payment schemes are supported, before deciding how to pay for items or services.
- RubeanTag infrastructure requires no additional hardware in the overall process flow: Only software updates on POS terminals, smartphones and a special workflow logic at the PSP.
- PSPs will be able to collaborate closely with retailers to incorporate all kinds of payment and loyalty options within one simple app – putting the consumer first and encouraging return spend.
- Retailers and their infrastructure providers both benefit as they can exploit existing infrastructure to underpin this next level of innovation.