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Issue Date: Vol. 49, No.4, April 2009, Posted On: 4/22/2009


USAT Enhances ePort Connect, Launches Deployment Consulting Service


Emily Jed
Emily@vendingtimes.net
USA Technologies, USAT, ePort Connect, Vending, Vending Machine, Automatic Retailing, Telemetry, Cashless, Credit Cards, PCI, Payment Card Industry Security Standards, Jim Turner

MALVERN, PA -- USA Technologies announced a series of enhancements to its ePort Connect, an end-to-end, backend payment and telemetry service. The company also has launched a consulting service to help vending operators get up to speed quickly and grow their operating profits.

USAT said it has worked to base ePort Connect on open architecture, so it can interface with other networks when transmitting data. The goal is to make ePort more accessible, network-compatible and interoperable to give ePort Connect customers maximum flexibility when making wireless choices.

The improvements to the ePort Connect Service include server-to-server capability that allows USAT's servers to transmit DEX data to management systems such as MEI's Easitrax and Crane's Streamware. The enhanced system also provides the ability to accommodate different cashless payment devices, including those made by MEI and Coinco.

Operators also now have the ability to use different credit/debit card processors and cashless technologies, from traditional magnetic stripe to contactless, NFC, and prepaid loyalty and gift card offerings.

Other benefits of the latest ePort Connect include improved integration with "back office" software packages, allowing customers to integrate their present systems with USAT's service for streamlined route settlement and accounting. It now offers faster credit and debit card authentication response, new deployment services and a streamlined device activation process. Machine "health" alerts notify operators, through Web reporting or email, of payment mechanism malfunction or out-of-stock conditions.

Additionally, a new "Over-the-Air Updates" feature allows operators to implement changes made to credit/debit card standards or encryption, or enable/disable device features, remotely, thus maintaining the most up-to-date system functionality. Updates are transmitted automatically to cashless terminals wirelessly and automatically.

The company also announced that it has achieved the highest level of network security compliance set by the U.S. Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council. It received confirmation from Visa that it has attained Level One Service Provider Compliance under the PCI Security Standards Council's PCI-Data Systems Security standards (PCI-DSS).

Separately, USAT announced that it is introducing an ePort Connect Deployment Consulting Service in response to customer requests for guidance on when, where and how to deploy cashless vending services. Drawing on insights from its 15 years of experience in network and financial services for unattended points of sale, as well as a database of more than 36 million unattended small-ticket transactions that USAT has processed to date, the company said it can help operators deploy their credit- and debit-card-enabled vending machines based on actual purchasing intelligence, ensuring the best financial return.

USAT's ePort Connect Deployment Consulting Service consists of a five-step process for ensuring the successful deployment of cashless vending machines. The first step is preparation, which helps the operator identify accounts based upon USAT's knowledge base of experienced, successful cashless customers and their performance criteria to deliver incremental operating profit. USAT offers the operator site surveys, machine compatibility and wireless signal checks, equipment orders/delivery and a project management timeline.

The second component is online training that covers the installation process, competency testing and certification, and the activation processes. The consulting service continues with online instruction on settlement process configuration. Operators are given hands-on Internet-based training in reporting everything from application to operations, finance, sales and service.

USAT consultants also aid operators with transactional reports configured by time period, machine and region, along with graphical reports to provide sales intelligence never before available. They provide condition reports to ensure that the payment systems are operating at all times, too.

The consulting service includes training for troubleshooting with online tools that detail techniques and a helpline that provides support and "fast track" parts supply.

"We have the skills, the technology and the knowledge database with the most comprehensive level of detail about consumer purchasing habits to advise operators where to deploy their ePort terminals for the best business results, with near pinpoint accuracy," said vice-president of deployment Jim Turner. "No one in the industry has the depth or breadth of the USAT customer knowledge base, or the proven experience to accurately guide customers on marketplace deployment that projects financial return for every individual machine."

USAT's database includes recent market intelligence gained from 6,000 representative ePort cashless terminals selected from the over 50,000 units deployed, which serve 30 different market channels. It collaborated with a major bottler to develop its consulting program.

Topic: Vending Features

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