Short-Range RF For Point-Of-Sale Transactions

The growing trend to accommodate consumers' interest in flexible payment options has driven retailers, restaurants, banks and service providers to offer widespread availability of credit/debit and cash machine POS card processing. The credit card processing machine is no longer found only at the cash register in the front of the store. The latest trends require new thinking to accommodate retrofit, mobile, temporary and handheld credit processing options.

Examples include handheld waiter terminals, petrol station POS, kiosks at sporting events, temporary checkouts to accommodate peak periods, etc. Many of these applications present challenges to traditional methods of connecting a telephone line or network cable to the POS device. Manufacturers of POS devices have incorporated wireless technology enabling faster installation at lower cost than wired networks and facilitating mobile POS solutions.

Security Concerns
A common wireless technology used in POS applications is a WLAN radio compliant with industry standard 802.11. These small, cost effective radios allow POS devices to communicate wirelessly to a PC network backbone that routes the financial transaction for approval. However, due to some widely publicized security breaches, many POS manufacturers and the companies considering implementing wireless POS devices are understandably concerned about the security of their customer's financial information.

Security researchers who study wireless networks have found an embarrassing information leak, this one involving a well-known retail giant. Some stores use cash registers with wireless networks that beam data -- including credit card numbers -- to a central computer elsewhere in the store. But a hacker can sit in a store's car park and 'listen in' to the data. Indeed, the American consumer electronics retailer Best Buy Co. recently shut off wireless cash registers at its stores after being alerted to the potential problem, saying it was investigating the issue.

Click here to download this complete Application Note in PDF format.