Interview of Cardlink’s Store Services Manager, Makis Mallioris | Techpress.gr
Strategically oriented towards a one-stop shop philosophy that exceeds electronic payments and aims at business growth, Cardlink changes the way in which professionals and businesses utilize their POS terminals.
“Technologies that deliver the future of payments to businesses”
Interview: Vaggelis Alevritis
Smart Android POS terminals are the vehicle for transition to the new era of electronic payments, in a manner that resembles the transition from the one-dimensional, palaeolithic mobile phones to multifunctional smartphones. We talked to Makis Malioris, Cardlink’s Store Services Manager, so that he can guide us through the capabilities of Android POS terminals and the Cardlink POSsible platform.
– Not long ago, we had the opportunity to see your new proposals for cashless transactions through Android POS terminals. What are the benefits of the new Cardlink POSsible platform and Android POS terminals?
Before talking about the benefits, let’s start with a brief description of Cardlink POSsible. It a smart terminals solution, a platform consisting of advanced hardware and software, involving several manufacturers and developers. It is based on the Android operating system and presents technologies that deliver the future of payments to businesses, meeting their need for an all-in-one solution that can be integrated smoothly into their daily lives. We created a payment application – among other functionalities – that is hardware agnostic and is compatible with many different models of several manufacturers, in order to facilitate the transition from the typical payments service to a modern, advanced environment, full of new possibilities. The same platform can act as a vehicle for numerous innovative functions, utilizing the same hardware. Thus, our customers now operate a product that is not limited to payments, but which has an environment that can be enriched with additional applications that either function independently or in collaboration with our services, taking advantage of the capabilities of the most popular operating system in the world, Android. For example, in the hospitality sector we already have the Cardlink maitre application for taking orders wirelessly which operates within the same Cardlink POS terminal in order to also facilitate payment of the bill through the same device, while covering in a unique manner the delivery and takeaway functions which are now essential.
The benefits of our smart POS terminals also include the Android user interface which is very familiar to most users, the broad and elegantly designed range of hardware options, the inconceivable speed in which transactions are completed and, of course, the app store that enhances POS terminals with additional functions. Apart from the standard acceptability of card payments through the payment application, Cardlink POSsible can host additional applications required by a business, thus upgrading its experience and, of course, that of its customers. Last but not least, the Android POS terminals follow the PCI 5 security standards, shielding in the best possible way every transaction executed.
– Apart from the hospitality sector, do you believe that mobile Android POS terminals make your platform more attractive for other categories of professionals as well? Which other sectors are a priority for you?
Of course, Android POS terminals are useful for many categories of professionals, since the collaboration between Cardlink POSsible and the maitre system for taking orders is just one of many examples we can mention. Another example is a self-service POS placed in a museum, which hosts an application for donations. This application is connected to the Cardlink POSsible application for direct card payments, through the same device. One of the sectors we are also quite interested in is tourism. Some hotels have already installed self-checkout POS terminals in the lobby areas, so that checkout can take place faster and more easily, without compromising the information on customers’ cards, since checkout is performed in a fully controlled and secure terminal, without any human interference. Another sector for which we have developed interesting applications is that of telecommunications. We have already installed self-service POS terminals in stores of a major mobile network operator, which allow end-customers to pay their bills, activate packages and top-up prepaid SIM cards. Thanks to the platform’s open Android philosophy, the same software could also be installed on mobile devices for sellers working from any location within the store.
The possibilities are limitless, from self-service POS terminals for taking orders in fast-food restaurants and self-checkout in hotels, to ticketing systems; whatever one can imagine and code within an Android environment is possible. For this reason, we should probably not refer to it as a single product but as an entire platform, which can be customized in terms of hardware and software to suit the specific needs of each customer, creating a multidimensional ecosystem.
-How controlled is this ecosystem by you? Can any developer take an SDK from you and start developing applications or do they have to go through a certification process? How can a developer have their app integrated in your app store?
Since the inception of the Android POS terminals we created the Cardlink SDK, which a third party developer can get hold of, following an agreement with us. Through the use of this SDK they can incorporate a payment system in any application they may develop, in a very simple way, since our system undertakes the entire realization of the electronic payment transaction. When a developer’s application is completed, it is submitted to Cardlink to be checked (for completeness, security, etc.) and it is certified so it can be uploaded on our marketplace, Cardlink store (the respective Google Play for Android POS terminals). Apps certified by us can be uploaded on Cardlink store and be available to all holders of such devices, or alternatively they can be installed in a targeted manner only on the terminals of clients who want to implement a particular solution. Despite the fact that the SDK is very developer-friendly and comes with detailed documentation, there is always the alternative option of connecting to the Cardlink POSsible application via the deep linking method. Simply put, the payment app just receives and returns the data required for a payment transaction, without other functions being integrated in the application built by a developer. Our intention is to attract developers and companies that want to create value-added solutions and upload their product on Cardlink store, so that users of Android POS terminals can use applications – whether free or paid – that are beneficial to their terminals, without being required to make use of our payment services. We would like our platform’s capabilities to be utilized further by a community of developers, and initially we would like to see the creation of solutions customized for specific customer requirements, whether this takes place in-house by themselves or by collaborating companies. We do not wish to become a software house, but an ecosystem of applications that equip our smart POS terminals with new functionalities.
– Apart from the typical POS systems, some of your more impressive solutions were also particularly interesting, such as large ordering kiosks with touch screens that combine taking orders and promotions with cashless payments. What has been the reaction of the Greek market to these proposals? What is your response to the new needs emerging?
We already mentioned a very interesting implementation of a self-service POS for donations, which was installed in a museum. The above ordering kiosks are already in operation at train stations as ticketing POS terminals, while specific courier companies have developed solutions based on our SDK for another terminal model, which have been installed on approximately 3,000 Android POS terminals. In addition, we mentioned that hotels are also interested in solutions with multifunctional kiosks in their lobby areas.
Cardlink POSsible now serves major retail chains and supermarkets, and we plan to support the development of the retail sector, either through solutions related to its digital transformation or through innovative ideas for receiving payments, constantly improving the experience of businesses and consumers.
– What happened with the arrival of COVID-19?
Apart from other parts our lives, the COVID-19 pandemic also had a negative effect on the Greek economy and particularly the retail sector. However, amid the ever-changing reality, new needs were created that our smart terminals where able to cover without any change required (even for payments at the entrance of stores), while we are already implementing new pioneering services that link the digital to the physical world, in order to serve businesses and their customers in the best possible way. Furthermore, Cardlink offers businesses a full range of e-Commerce services, aiming to establish itself as an important ally of businesses for curbside pick-up purchases through the payment links service, which is provided via the collaborating banks Eurobank and Alpha Bank and is aimed at companies that do not have an e-shop, but want to receive payments over the phone or by email.