By Aimee Chanthadavong

With the aim of “deepening the customer relationship” in mind, Commonwealth Bank, together with IDEO and Wincor Nixdorf, have created and launched Pi, a new paradigm in point-of-sale (POS) that is powered by a software platform, applications and an omni-channel device.

Investing at least $2 billion each year into new technology, Commonwealth Bank believes Pi is the final stage that will bridge the retail industry’s shift to mobile usage.

“Mobile has become the platform for how consumers are engaging and communicating with financial institutions and we’re going to bridge that right through to point-of-sales and transform the merchant environment forever.” Andy Lark, chief marketing and online officer, said. “This is the final bridge to cross with the retail sector.”

Similarly, Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, executive general manager of Corporate Banking Solutions, Commonwealth Bank, reiterated that during the two years of planning, they found there was a large disconnect between what consumers wanted and what retailers were delivering to them.

“By far the most frequent interaction our customers have with their money is purchasing at the point of sale. And we looked at the experience it is currently and we decided there was a lot of room of improvement,” she said.

“We found there was a big disconnect customers were having and what they would like to have. For example, more than 80 per cent of customers hate standing in queues but only 22 per cent of businesses believe this is even a problem. We found this same disconnect about whether technology is up to date. So we decided we wanted to something about this.”

As part of the launch, CommBank has introduced CommBank Albert, a tablet-based omni-channel, multi-functional merchant terminal. Powered by Pi, it can accept all forms of payments, it has an in-built camera, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capable and it is portable, enabling for payments to be accepted not only just at the counter. Albert will commence its certification this year, with expectations for it be available in the second quarter of next year.

“Pi, together with Albert, will empower businesses to go beyond a simple transaction by using consumer-friendly applications and a human-centric interface to enrich the customer experience. From offering an easier way of splitting the bill, activating a loyalty program, using information on customer preferences, to offering a more personalised experience or checking stock – with Pi, the opportunities are limitless,” Rosmarin said.

In the meantime, the company has launched CommBank Leo, a slimline merchant terminal that can be strapped on the back of an Apple iPod Touch or iPhone. Using Ingenico technology, it is most suitable for mobile businesses. It is already being piloted by partner retailers including David Jones, Dymocks, Bunnings and Caltex.

Additionally, as part of the Pi ecosystem is the CommBank Pi Applications, which have been designed specifically to improve businesses’ interactions with their customers. For example, the Split the Bill application – first of many to come – is an intuitive app can help split the bill between multiple people. The Bank welcomes retailers, application developers and any other third party companies to design their apps.