Instore payments 101 with Assembly's (now Zai) Head of Product, Aaron French

Aug 23 2020
Product Updates Payments

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Launching in April 2018 as the software that powers Presto Smart, Westpac’s new integrated payment solution, Zai In-store is a robust point of sale (POS) to EFTPOS terminal integration, designed to improve the payments process for both merchants and POS companies.

In this Q&A, Aaron French, Head of Product at Zai, will take us on a crash course on the technical aspects of Zai In-store, and give us a taste of what’s to come.

Aaron, can you give us an elevator pitch on the In-store solution - how does it work exactly?

Zai In-store is an integrated POS to EFTPOS payment solution that solves many typical pain points that exist for merchants and POS companies.

It works by enabling a secure WebSocket connection between the POS and the EFTPOS terminal over the local network. This means the solution is super resilient, and even if the external internet connection is down, the integration remains intact and transactions can be sent to the bank over 3G.

What makes Zai In-store particularly good for POS companies?

Our In-store solution was designed with a holistic approach. We wanted to create a solution that was stable, reliable and fast for merchants, but we equally wanted to create a solution with POS companies in mind; specifically POS developers and POS support functions. We’ve achieved this by:

– Making it easier for POS developers to integrate to our solution by using modern open source protocols.

– Creating a Developer Portal that is completely open to the market containing extensive documentation, client-side libraries in modern programming languages plus the certification test cases to make the integration process a breeze.

–Establishing a team of highly skilled Integration Engineers on hand to support our POS partners throughout the development process.

– Proactive support. Many EFTPOS solutions in market today lack effective support tools which makes diagnosing and rectifying issues a finger pointing exercise between different organisations. Our solution includes Real Time Monitoring of our integrated terminals. This enables us to see in real time events like the connection status, wifi strength and communication dropouts so we can quickly and effectively diagnose and rectify any issues making support a breeze.

What makes Zai In-store good for end merchants?

The market was crying out for a superior integrated solution. We’ve heard this time and time again from multitudes of merchants. The design principles we applied with this solution were that it had to be fast, it had to be simple to install and it had to be reliable with the best support tools on the market. As a result, our solution is:

Simple to install and pair with your POS. Step one is to connect the EFTPOS terminal to the wifi network of the POS. Step 2 is to push a button on the POS and a button on the terminal to initiate pairing. Within a minute, you are open for business.

Super fast and stable. The integration is fast, super reliable and works in an integrated fashion even if the external internet connection is down.

Feature first class support tools. With Real Time Monitoring activated, support functions can diagnose and help to resolve any issue that may occur on site.

What can POS Partners and merchants look forward to in terms of future capability?

In-store is just the start. We’re focussed on first ensuring this is the best integrated solution on the market. We’re also currently working on our ecommerce solution that will launch later in 2018. The solution is designed to be part of a multi-channel solution that will enable a customer to view all their sales channels (in-store, online and via 3rd party apps) on one dashboard. This will make tracking sales and performing reconciliation across multiple sales channels a far simpler task for our customers.

This multi-channel solution will also solve pain points that exist today around fraud and chargeback management, as well as enabling customers with multiple sites to remotely view the real-time status of all their EFTPOS terminals across all sites.

You’ve worked on the development of popular merchant payment solutions in the past. What excites you most about Zai In-store?

I see it as a more complete solution than anything in the market. It’s designed to easily integrate into the merchants world and solve real customer issues that exist around installation, speed, reliability and diagnosis of issues.

Where do you see in-store payments in the next 2-3 years?

Consumers will continue to use an ever-growing list of emerging app and digital wallet technologies to order and pay for goods. AliPay, WeChat, AfterPay, Zip Money, Hey You, Uber Eats, Deliveroo etc are only the start.

This is all helping to drive the convergence of the online and in-store experience for consumers, but it also brings new pain points for the average merchant who is impacted from not only an operational perspective of managing these channels, but also from a cash flow and reconciliation perspective.

Merchants will also want to bring down their cost of payment acceptance so payment companies will begin to roll out the emerging PIN on glass solutions that enable a customer to enter their PIN on a POS tablet rather than a fully fledged EFTPOS terminal.

I think sensor technology and self-checkout without scanning will also continue to gain traction in high traffic retail environments.

I think it’s really critical for a customer to work with a payments partner like Zai who not only understands these issues, but are actively delivering solutions for merchants to be able to thrive both now, but also within tomorrow’s payment environment.

If you could create any kind of crazy functionality for a merchant terminal with no development limitations, what would it be?

Making “Pay by Facial Recognition” a reality has always been in the back of my mind.

Watch this space!

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