Over the course of the next few weeks our blog posts will carry on the EMV discussion we started at the NAMA OneShow, during our Technology Panel co-hosted with Crane Merchandising Systems.Read the rest of this entry »
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MEI is well known in the vending space for providing innovative payment solutions that not only increase our customer’s profitability but enhance the consumer purchase experience.
Perhaps what isn’t as widely known is that MEI is on the university campus. MEI is present not only in a traditional sense accepting dollar bills, coins, and credit/debit payment but we’ve expanded our capability to accept the university meal card right at the vending machine!
It’s no secret that there are a lot of acronyms in the Vending industry: MDB, VMC, API, DEX, VDI, VMS. Add cashless solutions into the mix and we’ve got ourselves a real acronym alphabet soup: LAN, WAN, APN, CDMA, GSM, SIM, IP...!!!
MEI and our products are also guilty of said acronyms but that’s better left to another blog (VNR, HVB, A5K, EBDS)J
Cashless technology, given its relative newness to the industry, generates a lot of questions around acronym meaning and clarifying what the actual technology does. A few popular questions we receive are: What’s CDMA? What’s 3G? Which of these should I consider using to connect my cashless device?
CDMA: (Code Division Multiple Access) is a Verizon based communication solution and uses 2G/3G/4G/LTE [long term evolution] by EVDO (Evolution Data Optimized) Encryption Technology on both CDMA and all available Service Towers.
GSM: (Global System for Mobile Communication) is an AT&T based communication solution and uses 3G by GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) Encryption Technology on 3G Service Towers only.
Note: 2G towers are still in service around North America but are being phased out to make room for newer, faster towers and communication bandwidths.
*MEI’s first telemeter, the RDP, was a 2G only device.
**MEI’s current telemeter, the Advance 5000 or A5K supports 2G, 3G, CDMA. Its modular, removable components make it future proofed for what’s next in M2M (machine to machine) communication.
So how do you decide if CDMA or GSM (3G) is right for you?
- Perhaps obvious, but If you are in a region of the country where Verizon is the predominant carrier and AT&T isn’t, you want to use CDMA and vice versa. You can check this through signal testers or by talking to an MEI Technical Support Associate.
- Does speed matter? CDMA has faster date rate speeds than 3G. Realistic speeds average around 600Kbps-1,400Kbps verses AT&T Speeds of 67.5kbps to 384kbps. Faster speeds tend to matter because often the slower the speed, the higher the probability the call will drop out or timeout to the server response.
- CDMA data encryption uses a different technology than 3G. It transfers data in a single packet with an encryption key which allows the server to receive and unpack the data faster. This is a benefit because it statistically makes the encryption more stable and less likely for misinterpretation.
- CDMA uses a more powerful radio transmitter, which gives operators more locations to place machines, such as on the ground floor of buildings where they are below ground level and often away from a strong signal.
When CDMA is not available the radio automatically connects to 2G.
- Specific to the MEI Advance 5000 telemeter, 3G requires a SIM card, which can be beneficial for other applications beyond cashless. CDMA information is instead written to internal memory on the WAN Radio card therefore does not require the purchase of a SIM card, requiring less and cost and a step in activation.
- What options does your preferred partner supplier provide you in the way of available radios for their telemeter? Are 2G, 3G, CDMA offered?
- Evaluating cost. Given the many advantages of CDMA, rates for it are often higher so evaluating these advantages against costs for your business is advisable.
In closing, I’ll add another acronym for CDMA is LTE. J
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Guess what came in the mail for MEI associates who work at our United States corporate headquarters this week? New American Express® corporate credit cards arrived with little shiny silver rectangles on the end of them, better known as EMV chip cards!
(For a refresher of what EMV is and what it means for the future of cashless, refer back to this August 2013 blog post)
Truth be told, we inquired with AMEX earlier this year about the possibility of their issuance when we saw the expiration dates were approaching on our current cards. If we received new corporate cards with a chip, we could infer that EMV is in fact on its way to the US. The new cards would and do have expiration dates well beyond 2015, when the liability shift for merchants is slated to be in place and EMV cards will be the catalyst for more secure payment.
Being that we’re in the business of payment, when the cards arrived those of us who interact with payment technology as a part of our daily work, (i.e. marketing, sales, engineering, product management, technical support, perhaps not so much for say Finance and HR) we were quite interested. It was great to see a new type of payment literally arrive in the US and to know that now when travelling around the world on business these cards will protect our data with the utmost security.
For those of us in the Vending channel who engage in daily conversations about the cashless landscape, the arrival of these new cards was significant because they shed some small but indicative light about the likely future of EMV in the United States.
If you happen to stay current with the buzz on payment trends you hear everything from ‘EMV standards will begin their squeeze on merchants as soon as October 2015, so POS hardware replacement needs to happen NOW’ to ‘EMV will never take shape because mobile based payments will instead become the standard.’
The way we see it today is when one of the most popular global card brands issues EMV chip cards to US corporate card holders all signs seem to point to an EMV future here.
Or does it?
Maybe it’s just more of a convenience factor for corporate card holders who tend to be more global travelers?
Either way, MEI, as a global leader in the payment industry, has EMV on the roadmap. We have already researched the standards, developed EMV ready technology for the vending market and received the certifications required for markets like Australia, Europe and Canada, where these cards are already the norm. When or if, depending what camp you side with, EMV comes to the States, operators can rest assured that MEI will leverage our leadership and experience in this space for the US market.
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Tell us! Have you received an EMV chip card from your bank or credit card company already!?
The purpose of the Apriva Driver Card, different from an Apriva Test Card, (see the January 11th blog post for information on Test Cards) is to generate a “bookmark” of both cash and credit transaction data for your machine, within a certain period of time. These “bookmarks” are recorded inside your MEI telemeter (the EASITRAX® RDP or Advance 5000™/A5K) and are used with fill-to-fill based reporting, which is accessed in the Apriva Backoffice System.
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Vending operators are anxious to see how Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) swipe reform efforts will affect their business for the long haul. Some other industries have expressed support, including the FMI, as reported in an Oct 3 edition of VendingMarketWatch, “Food Marketing Institute Applauds Swipe-Free Reform.” But NAMA certainly doesn’t agree.
That same day, NAMA’s CEO Dan Mathews called for members to contact their congressmen and women to educate them about the harmful impact this legislation will have on the vending industry. The new swipe rates could have a brutal impact on the small transactions that occur in vending machines.Read the rest of this entry »
Whether deciding to add a banknote recycler or to go cashless or to integrate some combination of payment accepting devices, we are typically asked the same question: What criteria do you use to determine what payment device to invest in and when?
We usually respond with with three or four criteria such as vend price, but the one thing that we always include is location. The specific location of your vending machine is a critical element in the equation because it affects what is being sold, the volume, the risk for vandalism, and what types of payment are most prevalent. Here are just a few examples:Read the rest of this entry »
Contactless payment in a wide range of self-service retail applications is catching on, but how quickly? A representative of USA Technologies recently predicted contactless dominance in all retail venues, including vending, within just two years. That’s a pretty big statement, considering that the majority of cards in people’s wallets today have a mag stripe…and those people are not yet familiar with tapping. It has taken Americans over a decade to really embrace “swiping” and feel comfortable with the security of this type of payment method. We think a safer bet is the growth of contactless mobile payment, especially considering the fact that most people today carry a mobile device. This is where the opportunity for contactless payment growth lies, yet even so, it may be still too early to make any certain predictions.
Here are two different contactless technology options:Read the rest of this entry »