Three new features of the Apriva Vend service will roll out at the upcoming National Automatic Merchandising Association OneShow, April 27-29 at Chicago's McCormick Place. The upgrades include a new security feature to protect sensitive credit card information and enhanced reporting tools.
Apriva Vend will support "tokenization" with the newest firmware version in MEI card acceptors. when they're installed as a part of the Apriva Vend solution. Tokenization, the process of replacing credit and debit card numbers with scrambled digits after the initial authorization, substantially reduces the risk of a user's card number being stolen or misused. The new firmware is slated for release this summer.
"Apriva Vend allows vending operators to expand profits and sales through accepting cashless payments," said Bill Clark, executive vice-president and general manager for North America. "Adding tokenization enables vending operators to assure consumers that using cards in vending machines is safe. Combining greater security with the other benefits of accepting cashless payments at the vending machine gives operators even greater opportunities to improve profitability."
Apriva Vend also will support automated transmission of system alerts and alarms for monitoring activity at the vending machine; this feature will be implemented in late April. The system generates automated electronic messages that can be transmitted to the appropriate operations personnel in real time, allowing the operator to dispatch service personnel to address issues and get the machine back online as quickly as possible.
Another improvement to Apriva Vend is that the reports it generates are no longer static; operators have more flexibility to customize reports to meet their specific needs. "The new version has more Excel-type functionality that allows the operator to drag and move columns, with dropdown searches and sorts," explained Apriva director of marketing Robin Houston.
Houston added that, while Apriva's main business is cashless payments, the company is leveraging its network infrastructure to add features that better serve its vending customers and make it more competitive in the vending space.
"The new functionality provides basic alarms, such as when an item is sold out or the payment system is not functioning properly," she said, noting that it can serve as a useful, cost-free introduction to remote machine monitoring for smaller operators who have not yet invested in a full-featured telemetry system.
Houston emphasized that the alerts are not intended to compete with comprehensive vending management systems like MEI's Easitrax. Apriva Vend is designed to work with all MDB-compliant hardware, but is currently certified only with MEI hardware.
All of the new Apriva Vend enhancements are available at no additional charge to Apriva customers. Operators pay Apriva a monthly fee of $9.95, which covers wireless network access and payment processing.
Apriva's role in the payment process is to connect the hardware on the machine to the authorization and payment services provided by the card brands and the issuing banks. Apriva is also a provider of these services through NAMA's end-to-end Cashless Solutions program. In addition to Apriva's fees, the operator pays exchange rate fees levied by the credit card companies. These fees vary depending on a number of factors, including the type of card used and the issuing bank.
Apriva product manager Michael Merriam discussed the advantages of leveraging a wireless network for alerts and reports in the February 2011 issue of VT | See Story. Additional information is available online at aprivavend.com.
Founded in 1999, Apriva is a leading wireless solutions provider, integrating the hardware, software and network infrastructure required to develop and deploy high-performance, high-reliability solutions in the point-of-sale and secure mobile messaging markets.