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Remote control of microprocessor device transactions processing

Info

Publication number
WO1998021674A1
WO1998021674A1 PCT/AU1997/000777 AU9700777W WO1998021674A1 WO 1998021674 A1 WO1998021674 A1 WO 1998021674A1 AU 9700777 W AU9700777 W AU 9700777W WO 1998021674 A1 WO1998021674 A1 WO 1998021674A1
Authority
WO
Grant status
Application
Patent type
Prior art keywords
payment
device
remote
terminal
application
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/AU1997/000777
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Ian Charles Ogilvy
Original Assignee
Ian Charles Ogilvy
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date

Links

Classifications

    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07GREGISTERING THE RECEIPT OF CASH, VALUABLES, OR TOKENS
    • G07G1/00Cash registers
    • G07G1/12Cash registers electronically operated
    • G07G1/14Systems including one or more distant stations co-operating with a central processing unit
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q20/00Payment architectures, schemes or protocols
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q20/00Payment architectures, schemes or protocols
    • G06Q20/08Payment architectures
    • G06Q20/20Point-of-sale [POS] network systems
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F19/00Complete banking systems; Coded card-freed arrangements adapted for dispensing or receiving monies or the like and posting such transactions to existing accounts, e.g. automatic teller machines
    • G07F19/20Automatic teller machines [ATMs]
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F19/00Complete banking systems; Coded card-freed arrangements adapted for dispensing or receiving monies or the like and posting such transactions to existing accounts, e.g. automatic teller machines
    • G07F19/20Automatic teller machines [ATMs]
    • G07F19/206Software aspects at ATMs
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F19/00Complete banking systems; Coded card-freed arrangements adapted for dispensing or receiving monies or the like and posting such transactions to existing accounts, e.g. automatic teller machines
    • G07F19/20Automatic teller machines [ATMs]
    • G07F19/211Software architecture within ATMs or in relation to the ATM network

Abstract

The present invention relates to the remote control of processing devices, such as specialised communications devices including payment terminals (EFT) and other devices arranged to carry out card based transactions. It is often required to control such devices as payment terminals in conjunction with other devices, such as PCs and electronic cash registers (ECRs). Conventionally, to do this, special interfaces are written to interface between the software of the payment terminal and the controlling apparatus. The certification for compliance of all applications, the controlling application and the payment terminal application, is required. The present invention avoids the need for dual certification by implementing robotic control of the payment terminal by a controlling apparatus through the operating system of the payment terminal. The control apparatus operates the payment terminal as if it is another user of the payment terminal. The payment terminal 'sees' the operation by the control apparatus merely as inputs to its operating system, keyboard strokes, for example.

Description

REMOTE CONTROL OF MICROPROCESSOR DEVICE TRANSACTIONS PROCESSING

The present invention relates generally to the remote control of devices, particularly to the remote control of processing and computing devices which also have their own software application for controlling operation of the device, but which it is convenient or desirable to control or operate remotely from another processing or computing device . More particularly, but not exclusively, the present invention relates to the remote control or remote operation of a device which is arranged to control communications to and from a remote location.

The invention has particular application in relation to communications devices enabling access to networks which require a particular communications procedure to be followed for the purposes of ensuring that the information is secure, or ensuring that the information remains intact and is not corrupted, e.g., they may require transmitted information to be encrypted and secure. Specialised devices are available for controlling communications in such networks, and will hereinafter be termed "specialised communications devices". A communications device in this sense also includes devices arranged to communicate with a security access module such as a smart card. Communications between a device and a smart card require a communications procedure to be followed and security of information.

Such communications devices include specialised computing devices for processing card based transactions, be they credit transactions, electronic funds transactions, smart card transactions, loyalty systems

(Fly Buys), medical systems, ID systems (e.g., card based systems used for borrowing books from libraries, borrowing video movies, gaining access to buildings, driving licenses - any device which identifies a person to any system) . In the following description the present invention will be described and discussed using a remote payment transaction network as an example. It will be appreciated, however, that the invention is not limited to use with remote payment transaction systems (such as EFT) , but may find application with any specialised communications devices for controlling communications with any type of network or remote processing device or security access module. From an even broader aspect, the invention may be applied for the remote operation of any processing device which has its own software application for carrying out a particular task. The invention is particularly useful where such a device is required to be used in a number of different environments and it is desirable that the application software for carrying out the particular task should not be changed to suit it for operation in a particular environment. In such a case, the remote operation of the present invention can be applied to suit the environment and the application software of the device can remain unchanged.

The term "device" includes a "virtual" device, being a software implementation of a device in another computing device such as a PC or PC based arrangement.

Specialised communications devices for controlling remote payment transactions are well-known (remote payment terminals) . The most common function of such payment terminals is to remotely access a person's account information to either enable carrying out of a transaction, such as crediting or debiting the account, or, particularly in the case of credit card transactions, to check the user's account to ensure that there are sufficient funds to enable a particular transaction, so that the transaction may be approved. Once a transaction is approved, the actual physical transaction may take place by a separate paper bill trail, for example.

Remote payment terminals are usually owned by an account acquirer, such as a bank, and usually available on the premises of a merchant. The devices should be able to receive information from a customer which is required to identify the customer's account with the account acquirer, receive information on the purchase, such as the monetary amount of the purchase; communicate with the account acquirer - often by means of an encrypted communication; receive from the acquirer either a clearance approving the transaction (in the case of a credit card terminal where the transaction is carried out by a separate paper bill trail), or receive information that an account has been debited or credited in accordance with the transaction information provided by the device. The device will also usually need to handle the requirements of different account acquirers and may also need to be adapted to meet a merchants requirements.

Remote payment terminals are usually specialised devices including specialised hardware and software. In order to enable entry of data they are usually provided with a dedicated keypad, and in order for a user to check correct entry of data and receive and access communications from the account acquirer, they are usually provided with a display, such as an LCD display. They will also generally be provided with a card reader or the like for entering data from a user card, such as a magnetic stripe card or smart card. They will also generally be provided with a communication interface, for controlling communications. A specialised software application is provided to control operation of the device. This software application may control specific security requirements of the payment network, such as encryption of information which is required to be secure

(i.e., name of card holder, account identification, etc).

It is desirable to keep the cost of these devices as low as possible, particularly because any account acquirer (usually the owner of the devices) , such as a bank, will need to purchase many of the devices. It is desirable to keep the functions of the device as basic as possible and to limit the cost of the "peripherals", such as keypad, display, etc. Any increase in cost for the device, for example, due to an increase in display size, is significant, given that many of these devices may be required.

Another consideration is that, because these devices are generally required to deal with security sensitive information, it is generally necessary to thoroughly test operation of the devices before allowing their use, in order to ensure that the devices operate correctly and no errors are likely to be made, particularly with the security sensitive information. Such testing can take many man hours and will be necessary every time the hardware or software application of the device is changed. Any change in the software application or the hardware of the device, therefore, will give rise to a great deal of effort and cost. From the point of view of merchants who may be operating remote payment terminals (such as EFT devices) in retail premises, it is often a requirement that the remote payment terminal be operated in conjunction with another more sophisticated device, such as an electronic cash register (ECR) or other PC based device, which may be used for other point of sale (POS) operations. This allows integration of transaction information with the merchants network, for example, and also reduces incidence of double-keying (e.g., a ECR operator need only key in a purchase amount on the ECR, and it will be communicated to the EFT device, for communication with the EFT network) . The present arrangements comprising a remote payment terminal in conjunction with a more sophisticated device such as an ECR require specialised software applications to be written for both the ECR and the remote payment terminal, the applications being arranged to communicate information/commands/data with each other at the application level. This is usually carried out by using an application program interface (API) . The ECR has a controlling program or application and the API is constructed to make logical sense to the controlling program and also to make logical sense to the controlled program, being the application in the remote payment terminal. API makes calls for authorisation of payment, supplies data between the controlling device and the remote payment terminal, etc. Because the remote payment terminal application is in a sense "integrated" with the controlling application (e.g., the ECR application), by way of the API, both applications are required to be tested to ensure compliance with the remote payment terminal owners requirements. Operators of remote payment networks, such as banks, generally require testing and certification of software applications. The necessity to write and test new software applications results in significant expense. For some software applications it may even be impossible to guarantee compliance.

This leads to a number of problems. Depending upon the environment in which the remote payment terminal is operated, a merchant may desire a number of features which it may be too expensive to provide. These may include, commonly, operation of the remote payment terminal from an ECR to minimise double keying. Although large chain stores usually obtain systems which facilitate single keying, smaller companies often cannot afford this facility. For example, in garages and corner shops that are provided with remote payment terminals, it is often necessary for the operator to double key, i.e., key a transaction amount into a cash register and then separately key the same amount into the remote payment terminal. This can lead to accounts errors. Further, an operator may often require more advanced functional features in a payment terminal. For example, a larger display for the remote payment terminal may be required so that the operator can see more information on the transaction, a more advanced input means, etc. To provide remote payment terminals with such advanced features can significantly increase the cost, and may not be affordable.

Another problem is that every operator requires access to a remote payment terminal in order to control a transaction. It is therefore necessary to provide one remote payment terminal per operator. This also increases expense .

Another problem is that remote payment terminals do not facilitate automatic operation. For automatic operation, e.g., operation by a computer based device to facilitate operation by an automatic voice response system of the telephone network, a specialised software application must be written and certified by the remote payment terminal operator. Similarly for payment transactions over computer networks, such as the Internet. Again, to do this is very expensive.

Yet another problem where software interfaces such as

API's are applied to enable a controlling device to control a remote payment terminal, is that if the system

(being the controlling device and the controlled remote payment terminal) does not operate correctly, it is difficult to ascertain whether it is the remote payment terminal or the controlling device which is faulty. The system must be checked as a whole to find out whether it is the owner of the controlling device or the owner of the remote payment terminal (usually separate entities) who is responsible for the fault. Again, this increases expense.

The present invention provides a control apparatus for remotely operating a processing device, the processing device including application command means including instructions for controlling the device to perform a task in response to inputs to the device, the inputs being mput by way of a peripheral operating means, the control apparatus including a command interface arranged to affect remote control of the processing device by providing inputs to the peripheral operating means, whereby no direct application interface is necessary between the control apparatus and the application command means to operate the processing device.

The control apparatus may be any apparatus which it is desired to use to control the processing device. For example, it may be an ECR, a PC, or any other computing device .

The processing device may be any device which has its own application software for carrying out a particular task and which it is desired to control remotely by the control apparatus. Preferably, the processing device is a specialised communications device, including specialised communications devices for operating any card based system as discussed above, including remote payment terminals. The "task" to be performed by the processing device m that case would be communications with a card based network, such as EFT processing, smart card processing, etc.

By "application command means" is meant application specific software m the conventional sense. The processing device preferably also includes an operating system via which the application command means performs its task. The term "operating system" is also meant in its conventional sense.

The peripheral operating means includes any input arrangement which the application command means "sees" as a conventional device would see a conventional peripheral input, such as a keyboard or card reader. Conventional peripheral inputs do not affect the "integrity" of the application command means of conventional devices. In the present invention, by operating the processing device through the peripheral operating means, the device is preferably operated so that the processing device merely sees the inputs as if they are coming from conventional peripheries such as, for example, keyboard inputs, card reader inputs, etc. Where an operating system is provided, the inputs from the control apparatus may be input to the operating system by way of a serial port, for example. The peripheral operating means m this case includes the part of the operating system dealing with the input. The important thing here is that no API is implemented. The control apparatus operates the processing device as if it is just another operator of the device. The processing device merely sees the operation by the control apparatus m the same way that it would see operation by any user, e.g., a human user providing inputs by way of the keyboard. This type of operation will be termed "robotic control" hereinafter.

The application command means is preferably unaffected by the remote control operation, otherwise than by processing the inputs received from the operating system and providing outputs via the operating system. The application command means, therefore retains its integrity.

The processing device may have hardware input means and preferably also has output means, such as a keyboard and display, for example. This enables operation of the device by a human user if required.

In one preferred embodiment, the processing device is a remote payment terminal for use with the EFT network or the like. The command interface is preferably implemented m a more sophisticated device, such as an ECR or other PC-based device, which may be used for other point of sale operations .

A standardised "generic" software application can be incorporated m the remote payment terminal, because it is not affected by operation of the command interface. It is therefore only necessary to test one standardised application for the remote payment terminal.

Any other operational features that the merchant (ECR) owner may require can be provided by an appropriate application within the ECR. For example, an emulated payment terminal may be provided as an application m the ECR which emulates a remote payment terminal and utilises the input means and the display of the ECR.

Because the ECR will generally be a more powerful device than the payment terminal, with a more powerful processor and more sophisticated peripherals, the emulated remote payment terminal can be provided, effectively, with an extended keyboard, large LCD or CRT display, etc., m order to provide "advanced features", such as, for example, a larger display so that the operator can display more information on the transaction; operation of the transaction by means of advanced input means, such as a full qwerty keyboard or mouse; print-out from a printer of detailed transaction information, etc.

The display of the control apparatus may be arranged (by appropriate control by the application) to emulate an input means, such as a keypad, and display of a payment terminal, m much the same way as PC's are used to emulate calculators, when a graphical representation of a calculator keyboard will appear on the screen. An advantage of this arrangement is that the power of a personal computer or the like can be used to emulate a remote payment terminal and peripherals, and this avoids having to build expensive remote payment terminals with expensive peripherals. The account acquirer is thus able to provide the merchant with a fairly standard remote payment terminal providing the basic functions, at minimal cost. Any advanced functions required by the merchant, who will usually have PC's or ECR's, can be provided by way of an emulation arrangement. It is possible that this may enable standardisation of remote payment terminals per se, as any alternative or lmproved features can be provided by emulation. Advanced displays and functionality can be provided by a software application within the ECR.

The remotely controlled processing device need not be an actual separate hardware device, but could be a "virtual" device as defined above m the preamble, implemented as a separate software application on a PC based arrangement. For example, m the case of a remote payment terminal and ECR combination the remote payment terminal may be implemented as a virtual device on the same hardware as the ECR. The ECR application software and the remote payment terminal application software would not be interfaced at application command level (no API), as is conventional, however. Instead, the remote payment terminal application software is controlled via a peripheral operating means as discussed above, and the ECR application software provides inputs to the peripheral operating means. Although both applications are implemented on the same hardware, the remote payment terminal application is controlled robotically by the ECR application as if they were separate devices remote from each other. The peripheral operating means m this case may be an interface which acts like an operating system for receiving inputs to the remote payment terminal application.

With the present invention, an account acquirer can provide a "standardised" remote payment terminal. Certification of the standardised remote payment terminal would be a simple matter. As there is no application software interface required between the remote payment terminal and any control device, it is not necessary to separately test and certify the application of the control apparatus .

The control apparatus can therefore be provided with all manner of functions by way of a specially written application for the control apparatus, depending, of course, on what the owner of the control apparatus can afford. He need not concern himself about the cost of the payment terminal application, however.

A payment terminal owner (usually an account acquirer) may be able to provide application software for an ECR, preferably at a much cheaper cost than it would cost to update peripheral hardware or software for a remote payment terminal. Further, because a communications link is required between the remote payment terminal and the account acquirer (usually by way of MODEM and telephone line) the opportunity is available for the account acquirer to update features of an emulated remote payment terminal on the ECR or PC via the communications link with the remote payment terminal device and the interface between the payment terminal and the user PC or ECR. If a merchant requires further advanced features for an emulation arrangement, therefore, it could be updated merely by telephone link with the account aquirer or the emulator producer (where the emulator producer is separate from the account aquirer) .

Further, because a device such as a remote payment terminal will normally have its own fairly basic input means (where it is a separate hardware device and not a virtual device) , such as a functional keyboard and card reader and output means, such as a display, if the control apparatus, such as the ECR, should breakdown for some reason, it is still possible to operate the "basic" device utilising its own peripherals. Remote payment transactions could still therefore be controlled directly by a remote payment terminal, m the event of ECR breakdown.

Preferably, the software application of the control apparatus can communicate with the command interface through an application program interface (API) with the command interface. The command interface then converts the data/instructions from the API to inputs to the peripheral operating means. Preferably, these inputs may be seen by the processing device as keystroke or the like inputs, as if a keyboard were being operated by a human user. The keyboard need not exist, it may be a "notional" keyboard. Similarly, outputs from the peripheral operating means may be converted by the command interface and API into instructions/data for the application of the control apparatus.

A further advantage of the present invention, particularly when applied to remote payment terminals, is that there is a clear division between the remote payment terminal and the control apparatus. If there is a fault m either one, it is a simple matter to test which is at fault. It would therefore be clear to the account acquirer whether the remote payment terminal is at fault or the control apparatus. This facilitates maintenance and operation of the arrangement, and also, therefore, minimises expense.

Yet a further advantage is that it would be possible to provide processing devices which are merely "black boxes" or virtual applications m the form of software. That is, hardware need only be minimal - it would not even be necessary to provide peripherals. The basic application running on the hardware or as a virtual device would provide the minimal necessary requirements for carrying out the desired operation, e.g., payment processing were the processing device is a remote payment terminal. Any other features which would be desired by the operator may be provided by the application of the control apparatus.

For security purposes, however, a device such as a remote payment terminal may be arranged to receive some inputs only from its own hardware peripherals or have peripherals that can only be operated by the device and cannot be operated remotely, such as a card reader, for example. For example, input of a PIN number may be required from a payment terminals own keyboard, for security purposes.

Another application program being run on the control apparatus may cause operation of the command interface means to automatically input data required by the processing device. For example, a ECR program may produce a transaction amount which would be provided to a remote payment terminal automatically via the command interface. The remote payment terminal would see this input amount m the same way as it would receive an input amount from its own keyboard by operation of the keys i.e., the amount would be input robotically.

The present invention also facilitates remote operation of a processing device by more than one user. For example, with specialised communications devices it is usually necessary to provide one device per human user. For example, m a large store each ECR will have associated with it a remote payment terminal for use by a single checkout operator. The present invention facilitates remote robotic control of a processing device. It is therefore possible to have a system where a number of users require only a single processing device to perform a particular task.

For example, m a payment processing system, a single remote payment terminal may be operated by a computer device, such as a network server computer, by way of robotic control. Other devices may be connected to the server computer, such as PC's, Internet server computers, ECR's, etc. All these devices could access the server to apply robotic control to the payment terminal to carry out a payment transaction. Multiple users can therefore use a single remote payment terminal. This may be particularly useful with telephone transactions, i.e., credit card transactions over the telephone. Multiple telephone operators may require only a single processing device which is robotically controlled by a server computer -unconnected to terminals for each of the telephone operators .

Note that for this particular application robotic control is not absolutely necessary and a specialised application may be written for interfacing the remote payment terminal and the controlling computer which is connected m the network. It is preferred that robotic control be exercised, however, and generally more convenient . The present invention also facilitates testing of new software applications for processing devices. For example, where a new application is to be tested for a remote payment terminal, robotic control can be applied by a controlling apparatus to test run the application as if the control apparatus were a user of the remote payment terminal. This test can be automated. This reduces cost of development of new applications.

The present invention further provides a system comprising a processing device including application command means including instructions for controlling the device to perform a task in response to inputs to the device, the inputs being input by way of a peripheral operating means, and a control apparatus for remotely operating the processing device and including a command interface arranged to affect remote control of the processing device by providing inputs to the peripheral operating means, whereby no direct application interface is necessary to the application command means to operate the processing device. The control apparatus and processing device may be as discussed above m relation to the previous aspect of the present invention and the system may include any or all of the features discussed above.

The present invention further provides a processing device including application command means including instructions for controlling the device to perform a task m response to inputs to the device, the inputs being input by way of a peripheral operating means, the processing device being adapted so that the peripheral operating means may receive inputs from a command interface of a control apparatus arranged to affect remote control of the processing device by providing inputs to the peripheral operating means, whereby no direct application interface is necessary to the application command means to operate the processing device. The processing device is preferably adapted to be operated robotically, so that the application command means sees the inputs from the control apparatus as if it is being controlled by a user. Preferably, the processing devices sees the inputs as key strokes to a notional keyboard peripheral.

The processing device may have any or all of the features of the processing device discussed above and may be a specialised communications device such as a remote payment terminal. The present invention yet further provides a method of remotely controlling a processing device, the processing device including application command means including instructions for controlling the device to perform a task m response to inputs to the device, the inputs being input by way of a peripheral operating means, the method comprising the steps of providing inputs from a control apparatus including a command interface, the inputs being inputs to the peripheral operating means, whereby no direct application interface is implemented between the control apparatus and the application command means .

The processing device may be any type of device as discussed above m relation to previous aspects of the invention and the control apparatus may be any type of control apparatus as discussed above in relation to previous aspects of the present invention. The present invention yet further provides a method of controlling remote payment transactions from a remote payment terminal having an input means and communications means for communicating transaction information with a remote location, comprising the steps of robotically controlling the remote payment terminal from a control apparatus which includes an interface with the remote payment terminal, input means, a display and a payment terminal interface application means comprising a command interface arranged to control the remote payment terminal robotically by providing inputs to a peripheral operating means of the remote payment terminal.

The method also preferably includes the step of, m the control apparatus, emulating a remote payment terminal, preferably to provide advanced features utilising preferably more sophisticated peripherals of the control device e.g., more sophisticated keyboards, bigger line display, etc.

The present invention yet further provides a control apparatus, including a display, input means, emulation means for controlling the apparatus to emulate the operation of peripherals of a remote payment terminal, and application means for controlling a remote payment terminal, via a communications interface, to carry out remote payment transactions m response to commands entered via the emulated terminal.

Another application of an embodiment of the present invention is in relation to payment for transactions performed over computer communication networks, such as the Internet, for example. A device needing to organise a transaction, for example a server computer supporting web pages offering goods/services for sale, may utilise the robotic control of the present invention to control remote payment terminals interfacing with account acquirers. The account acquirers, e.g., the banks, can therefore certify, maintain and control the remote payment terminal application without concern about security. The web server may automatically control the transaction by robotically controlling the remote payment terminal. The remote payment terminal may be implemented as a virtual device on the server computer, with the appropriate communications interface for the account acquirer network. From a further aspect the present invention provides a method of controlling a transaction for goods/services effected over a computer network, comprising the steps of providing a processing device including application command means including instructions for controlling communications to/from a payment processing system via a peripheral operating means arranged to receive inputs for processing by the application command means, and remotely controlling the device by providing inputs to the peripheral operating means of the processing device from a computer on the network.

The controlling computer may be a web server or the like on the Internet. The processing device or application may be implemented as a virtual processing device on the same server computer.

The present invention yet further provides a computer apparatus arranged to control communications on a computer network and including a command interface for controlling a processing device for controlling communications with a payment processing network, the processing device including application command means including instructions for controlling communications with the payment processing network and a peripheral operating means arranged to receive inputs for processing by the application command means, the computer apparatus being arranged to control the processing device by providing inputs to the peripheral operating means .

The computer may be a web server on the Internet and the device may be implemented as a virtual device on the web server computer. Features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following description of an embodiment thereof, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings in which: Figure 1 is a schematic block diagram of a system m accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, for carrying out remote payment transactions;

Figure 2 is a diagram illustrating the software and hardware arrangement of a prior art remote payment transaction processing system;

Figure 3 is a schematic diagram illustrating the software/hardware arrangement of an embodiment of a system m accordance with the present invention;

Figure 4 is a schematic diagram illustrating an application of an embodiment of the present invention on a computer network; and

Figure 5 is a schematic block diagram of a further embodiment of the present invention, illustrating multi-user operation of a remote payment terminal. Referring to the drawing, reference numeral 1 indicates a processing device, being m this example a dedicated remote payment terminal, such as an EFT device, for controlling remote payment transactions between an account acquirer such as a bank and a merchant at whose premises the remote payment terminal 1 is situated. The remote payment terminal 1 comprises a card reader 2 for reading a magnetic stripe card or the like, a minimal two or three line LCD display 3, and a dedicated keypad 4 for enabling entry of at least the minimum information required to carry out a remote payment transaction. A communications interface 5, such as MODEM, is also provided for communicating with the account acquirer via a communications link 6, such as a telephone link.

The terminal 1 is arranged to enable entry, via keypad 4 and card reader 2, of various details identifying a user's account, to communicate with the account acquirer to either obtain transaction approval or cause an account transaction. It is envisaged that employment of the present invention, will enable such a remote payment terminal to be configured to provide only essential operational features, i.e. the keypad 4 being dedicated to enable entry of just basic information (such as PIN) and other manipulations required by such a device, a fairly minimal display 3, etc.

In accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, a control apparatus for the remote payment terminal is provided, designated generally by reference numeral 7 m the drawing. In this example, the control apparatus 7 is a PC. It will be appreciated that it may alternatively be a ECR or other processing apparatus, to facilitate POS operation.

The PC, includes a keyboard 8, monitor 9, computer 10 and mouse 11. The PC 7 is configured by appropriate application software to act to emulate features of at least the peripherals of a remote payment terminal. The emulator software enables the CRT 9 to act as a display for the remote payment terminal which can display much more information than the actual remote terminal display 3. The keyboard 8 and/or mouse may be used to input information and is more versatile than the dedicated keypad 4. The emulation arrangement is preferably arranged to give a display 12 of an emulated keyboard and display for the remote payment terminal which can be operated by the keyboard 8 and/or mouse 11.

Serial communications interface 13 is provided between the emulator 7 and the remote payment terminal 1. In accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, a command interface is implemented within the PC 7. The command interface controls operation of the remote payment terminal 1 m accordance with commands input via the input means 8 and 11 and via the emulation application implemented within PC 10. The operation of the remote payment terminal device 1 is controlled via a peripheral operating means of the remote payment terminal 1, being m this case a conventional operating system. The commands transmitted over serial interface 13 are received by the remote payment terminal 1 m the same manner as if the user were operating the keyboard. That is, the application software of the remote payment terminal sees the inputs from the PC 7 m the same manner as it would see inputs from a keyboard peripheral. Similarly, outputs from the remote payment terminal 1 are transmitted to the emulation arrangement 7 from the operating system of the remote payment terminal 1, as if they are standard outputs to another device. There is no application program interface (API) between the application program on the PC 7 and the application program in the remote payment terminal 1. Control is robotic.

The real terminal 1 supports the emulation arrangement, or "virtual console" 7 at the OS/ or BIOS level, so that all data input and output can automatically be sent to or come from the virtual console. Additionally, data input requests (transaction information requests) may be tagged with an identifier, allowing the virtual console to supply answers from data obtained from a command line interface which may be provided automatically with transaction information provided by other programs running on the PC 10.

For example, PC 10 could launch the user interface arrangement with a command "EFT/fAM=23.50" . This would launch interface arrangement and automatically store a "field" (/f) tagged "AM" with the value 23.50. After a card is swiped on the real terminal 1, the real terminal software would automatically request input of a field tagged "AM" (it stands for amount here, but any code could be used) . The command interface arrangement, seeing the stored field requested would automatically provide the answer which had already been loaded into the field m the mterface arrangement by the PC program (which could be a cash register program, for example) , by software operation of the input means 4 of the remote payment terminal 1.

The real terminal 1 is arranged to support all operations on it and requires PIN operations to occur on the real keypad 4 (for security).

As discussed previously, advanced features of operation of the remote payment terminal device can be emulated, eg. increase display size, more keyboard functions, etc, by the arrangement 7. Virtual display 12, therefore, can provide much more display and key entry capability than the basic remote payment terminal 1.

The programming which provides the emulation arrangement may be arranged to give advanced features such as a larger display.

Features of the emulation arrangement can be updated by down loading software via the communications links 6 and 13.

Because the command interface operates the remote payment terminal 1 as if it were a user of the remote payment terminal, at operating system level, the remote payment terminals own software is not affected. It can thus operate on its own, if required. Further, there is no need for the emulation program or command interface program implemented m the PC 7 to be tested for compliance with the remote payment terminal network, as it does not have any interaction with the remote payment terminal network. The terminal is relatively cheap to develop and maintain. A "generic" remote payment terminal can also be provided, as other features can be emulated by the application m the control apparatus.

As discussed above, systems already exist whereby a complex PC based device such as an ECR is arranged to operate with a remote payment terminal to carry out remote payment transactions. In order to illustrate the differences between the present invention and the prior art, a description will now be given of a prior art system with reference to figure 2, and a system m accordance with an embodiment of the present invention with reference to figure 3. Figure 2 schematically illustrates a software and hardware arrangement of a prior art remote payment terminal 50 arranged to be operated in conjunction with an electronic cash register (ECR) 51.

The prior art payment terminal 50 comprises hardware, including peripherals such as a card swipe 80, keyboard 81, display 82, printer 83 and a communications means 84 for communicating with a remote location for transmitting and receiving payment transaction information. It also comprises operating system software 53 for operating the peripherals m accordance with instructions provided by application software 54 arranged to control the payment terminal 50 to carry out remote payment transactions.

The ECR 51 comprises hardware 57 including peripherals such as a keyboard and display, an operating system 58 for controlling the hardware and the peripherals

57 in accordance with application commands of a software application 59, arranged to control operation of the ECR.

The application 59 may include a standard ECR application.

Prior art payment terminal 50 and ECR 51 are arranged to communicate with each other over a communications interface 56, by way of an application program interface 200, 201 (API), m a known manner.

In this way, information such as a cash amount can be communicated from the ECR to the prior art terminal 50 for on-communication to the EFT network, and information such as "transaction approved" can be communicated from the prior art payment terminal 50 to the ECR 51. Communication of information between the devices 50 and 51 facilitates remote payment transactions for point of sale applications. Such arrangements are commonly seen m retail environments. In prior art arrangements, however, communication between the ECR 51 and terminal 50 is by means of sending and receiving messages at application level, utilises an API 200, 201. For example, processing of a payment transaction request by the prior art terminal 50 will eventually require the provision of a transaction amount to be processed, e.g., the monetary amount of any sale to a customer. In prior art arrangements, when the application 54 m the prior art terminal 50 requires a transaction amount it will make a request over the communications interface 56 of the application 59 of the

ECR 51, by way of the API for that amount. The application 59 will then respond by providing that amount.

In the prior art, therefore, because the applications m the ECR and remote payment terminal "talk" to each other by way of the API, m order to ensure compliance with a payment processing system, the application software of the entire arrangement (ECR and remote payment terminal) must be tested. This vastly increases the expense of development of such "integrated" applications. Further, where different requirements for functionality are desired by different ECR operators (merchants) different applications must be developed, each separately requiring testing and certification. Further, it is generally the responsibility of the owner of the payment terminal to ensure proper maintenance of the payment terminal and the owner of the ECR to ensure proper maintenance of the ECR. Where a fault occurs m a prior art system such as this, however, it is generally impossible to tell with ease whether the fault is m the ECR or the payment terminal. The cost of maintenance is therefore increased.

These problems limit the versatility of operation of a transaction which may be required by a merchant. In some cases, rather than go to the expense of providing a special application for interaction with a payment termmal, a merchant may just have an operator "double key" transactions and have a separate payment terminal which is completely separately operated. This can lead to drastic problems with accounting, particularly where errors m keying occur.

Further, development of a "generic" payment terminal is discouraged.

Figure 3 is a diagram showing the software/hardware arrangement of an embodiment of the present invention. It comprises a remote payment terminal 60 and electronic cash register or other PC-based device 61. As with prior art payment terminals, the payment terminal 60 comprises, hardware including a card reader 90, a keyboard 91, a display 92, a printer 93 and a communications device 94 such as a MODEM for communicating with the remote location or payment terminal network (not shown) . It also comprises operating system software 60A for controlling operation of the terminal m accordance with instructions provided by application software 63 which is arranged to control the payment terminal 60 to carry out remote payment transactions.

The ECR 61 comprises hardware/peripherals 62 which will include a keyboard and display and may include further input means such as a mouse (see figure 1) . It also includes operating systems software 63.

The ECR 61 m this case also includes a software application 65 which controls point of sale applications of the ECR and may also provide an emulation application as described m relation to figure 1, for emulating a remote payment terminal. It also includes a command interface 66, which may be implemented by software, and whicn is arranged to operate the payment terminal 60 at operating systems 60A level, such that it appears to the application 63 of the payment terminal 60 that when it is operated by the command interface 66 it is no different from being operated by a user actuating the hardware of the payment terminal 60. For example, if a command is input to the emulated terminal via the hardware 62 of the ECR 61, the command interface 66 affects the operating system software 62 of the payment terminal 60, as if the keyboard 91 of the payment terminal 60 is being actuated.

In the specific implementation, the command interface 66 takes instructions, data, etc, from an API 67 and converts them to electronic impulses which are received by a robotic control interface 68 on the payment terminal 60 and which the payment terminal 60 sees as key strokes.

The command interface 66 also "snoops" on the outputs from the payment terminal 60 by taking information directly from the display driver and printer driver, as illustrated m the diagram. This information may be used by the application 65 to provide outputs to an emulated display and/or the printer of the ECR 51.

The application 63 of the payment terminal 60 remains totally unaffected by this type of "robotic" control from the ECR 61 at operating systems 60A level. Any information required by the payment terminal 60 to carry out a remote payment transaction is not provided at application level, but is provided by the ECR 61 at operating system level, as if it were a user of the payment terminal 60. For example, where the payment terminal 60 requires a transaction amount from the ECR 61, the command interface 66 detects this from the output to the display 92 (e.g., "input amount") via the API and m return the application 65 provides the amount to the interface 66 which then electronically "presses" via robotic control 68 the appropriate keys of the keyboard 91 to input the transaction amount to the payment terminal 60.

The command interface may be implemented m any way known to a skilled software person. In the embodiment of figures 1 and 3, the remote payment terminal is shown with a number of peripherals. In an alternative embodiment, the remote payment terminal may be provided as a "black box" for connection to a PC based device such as an ECR. No peripherals would be provided and the PC based device application software would be expected to provide all the requirements for the operator. The black box device would therefore be a very low cost device, easily maintainable by the owner.

In figure 1, the remote payment terminal 1 is shown as a separate hardware device to the PC (or ECR) 7. As discussed m the preamble of the specification, the controlled processing device need not be a separate device. It could be implemented as a "virtual" processing device by way of software on a PC, ECR or other computing device. In such a case, the device would be implemented as software, but would otherwise have all the features of the hardware device, i.e., an application command means and an operating system.

In an alternative embodiment for control of a remote payment terminal, therefore, the application software for the remote payment terminal and the operating system could be implemented as software on the PC 7. The EFT application would control the payment terminal application through the command interface and the payment terminal application would see the control as if it were controlling a "virtual" input means, such as a notional keyboard. In other words, control would be effected through the operating system of the payment terminal application.

Another application of the present invention is m relation to the testing of applications for processing devices. For example, in the case of remote payment terminals, when an application is updated, changed or replaced, the application must be tested to see if it performs correctly. Robotic control would facilitate this testing by enabling it to be carried out automatically, i.e., by a processing device implementing testing operation automatically by way of a robotic control interface .

Figure 4 illustrates another application of the present invention. A major problem with commerce over modern communications networks, such as the Internet, is how to process payments for sale of goods/services over the network and maintain security and avoid the need for human interaction. Figure 4 illustrates a web server computer 100 having a connection to the Internet 101. The web server computer offers services/goods over the Internet to users of connected PC's 102, 103, 104. If a PC owner wishes to obtain services/goods from the web server 100, the PC owner will indicate this via the Internet and the web server computer 100 will usually request payment details, e.g., credit card, bank card or the like. Presently, where payment is to be made by a payment processing network to a banking system, such as EFT, a software application will have to be written to interface with the payment processing network. This software application will require certification and maintenance by the account acquirer. It is therefore expensive and difficult to maintain. This can preferably be avoided by application of the present invention.

Web server computer 100 includes a remote payment processing application 105. This is implemented as a virtαal remote payment terminal as a software application on the computer 100. It is however, isolated from the web server software and the web server software only accesses the remote payment application 105 by way of an operating system, as discussed above m relation to the first embodiment of the present invention. The remote payment application 105 is a "sealed" application. It includes all the necessary instructions to access the payment processing network (e.g., banking network) of the account acquirer (bank) 106 .

In this way, a payment transaction can be carried out with security. The sealed remote payment application can be easily configured and maintained by the account acquirer 106 without it being necessary to check any software used to operate the application on the web server computer 100. This is because any such software operates the remote payment terminal robotically, as discussed above, as if it were just another user of the remote payment terminal.

Note that the remote payment terminal may be a separate, hardware device, if required, connected to the web server.

Another embodiment of the present invention will now be described with reference to figure 5. Figure 5 illustrates a number of devices connected together by a network 300. The devices include an Internet server computer 301 which has a connection 302 to the Internet

303. It also includes a number of remote terminals 304, 305 associated with work stations 306, 307 for telephone operators maintaining a telephone payment transaction system (such as a theatre or travel booking system, ticket booking system, or any other telephone purchase application) . Also connected to the network 300 is an ECR 308 for operation by an operator via a keyboard 309 at a retail location or the like.

The Internet server 301 may be configured to offer goods/services for sale over the Internet. The terminals

304, 305 for the telephone operators 306, 307 to provide services over the telephone m return for payment and similarly the ECR 308 records the sale of goods/services at the retail outlet. All these devices require access to a remote payment terminal m order to carry out transactions with an account acquirer via a remote payment network.

In the prior art, each of these devices will require their own remote payment terminal. With the present invention, each can make use of a single payment terminal by way of robotic control.

Also connected to the network 300 is a computer apparatus such as server 310. Server 310 may support the network 300 which may be a LAN, or any other type of network. Also provided connected to the server 310 is a remote payment terminal 311. The remote payment terminal

311 is controlled via an application on the server which utilises a command interface for robotic control of the remote payment terminal .

The server includes the control application software

312 an API 313 and a command interface 314, as discussed above. The remote payment terminal includes a operating system 315, robotic control interface 316 and application software 317.

This arrangement facilitates multi-user access of a single remote payment terminal which may reduce the operating costs and costs of remote payment transactions. While robotic control is preferable for this multi-user arrangement, it may not be essential.

The invention has been described above in relation to application in controlling remote payment terminal apparatus. It will be appreciated that there are many other applications for this type of robotic control of a apparatus. Any application where a person requires information to be communicated with a network (utilising a specialised communications device) but still requires their own application to carry out processing of their own information and control can usefully utilise the present invention, for example. The controlled device may have its own, secure application which is unaffected by remote, robotic operation of the device. This ensures that the communications to the network or remote processing device comply with all the normal requirements for that communication and it is not necessary to update the communication devices application m order to modify operation of the users device. Another example is any application, where it may be necessary to transmit secure personal details of a person to a central location from a remote location. The device m accordance with the present invention could be used to communicate the information, whilst an application on a controlling device could be modified to suit the requirements of the operator. (e.g., for applications for driving licences, car insurance, etc) .

The invention is also applicable m many areas where robotic control may be desirable. Any device which has its own application which is required to remain unaffected or substantially unaffected (although the software being unaffected may not be a requirement of some variations - the important aspect m the feature of at least some robotic control through inputs) may be robotically controlled by the present invention.

Variations and/or modifications may be made to the invention as shown m the specific embodiments without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention as broadly described. The present embodiments are, therefore, to be considered m all respects as illustrated and not restrictive.

Claims

THE CLAIMS DEFINING THE INVENTION ARE AS FOLLOWS:
1. a control apparatus for remotely operating a processing device, the processing device including application command means including instructions for controlling the device to perform a task m response to inputs to the device, the inputs being input by way of a peripheral operating means, the control apparatus including a command interface arranged to affect remote control of the processing device by providing inputs to the peripheral operating means, whereby no direct application interface is necessary between the control apparatus and the application command means to operate the processing device.
2. A control apparatus m accordance with claim 1, wherein the processing device is a communications device.
3. A control apparatus m accordance with claim 2, wherein the communications device is a specialised communications device such as a specialised communications device for carrying out transactions such as card related transactions.
4. A control apparatus m accordance with claim 3, wherein the specialised communications device is a remote payment terminal .
5. A control apparatus m accordance with claim 4, wherein the control apparatus is a ECR or PC or the like including application command means for controlling aspects of a payment transaction.
6. A control apparatus m accordance with any one of claims 1 to 4, wherein the control apparatus is a server processing device supporting a network of other processing devices and facilitating access to the controlled processing device from the other processing devices.
7. A control apparatus in accordance with any one of claims 1 to 4, wherein the control apparatus includes application software arranged to test operation of the processing device for compliance with predetermined requirements .
8. A control apparatus m accordance with any preceding claim, wherein the processing device is implemented as a virtual device.
9. A control apparatus m accordance with claim 8, wherein the virtual device is implemented on the same hardware as the control apparatus.
10. A system comprising a processing device including application command means including instructions for controlling the device to perform a task m response to inputs to the device, the inputs being input by way of a peripheral operating means, and a control apparatus for remotely operating the processing device and including a command interface arranged to affect remote control of the processing device by providing inputs to the peripheral operating means, whereby no direct application interface is necessary to the application command means to operate the processing device.
11. A system m accordance with claim 10, wherein the processing device is a communications device.
12. A system m accordance with claim 11, wherein the communications device is a specialised communications such as a specialised communications device for carrying out transactions such as card related transactions.
13. A system m accordance with claim 12, wherein the specialised communications device is a remote payment terminal .
14. A system m accordance with claim 13, wherein the control apparatus is a ECR or PC or the like including application command means for controlling aspects of a payment transaction.
15. A system m accordance with any one of claims 11 to 14, wherein the control apparatus is a server processing device supporting a network of other processing devices and facilitating access to the controlled processing device from those other processing devices.
16. A system m accordance with any one of claims 11 to 14, wherein the control apparatus includes application software arranged to test operation of the processing device for compliance with predetermined requirements.
17. A system m accordance with any preceding claim, wherein the processing device is implemented as a virtual device.
18. A system m accordance with claim 17, wherein the virtual device is implemented on the same hardware as the control apparatus.
19. A processing device including application command means including instructions for controlling the device to perform a task m response to inputs to the device, the inputs being input by way of a peripheral operating means, the processing device being adapted so that the peripheral operating means may receive inputs from a command interface of a control apparatus arranged to affect remote control of the processing device by providing inputs to the peripheral operating means, whereby no direct application interface is necessary to the application command means to operate the processing device.
20. A processing device m accordance with claim 19, wherein the processing device is a communications device.
21. A processing device m accordance with claim 20, wherein the communications device is a specialised communications device such as a specialised communications device for carrying out transactions such as card related transactions .
22. A processing device m accordance with claim 21, wherein the specialised communications devices are a remote payment terminal.
23. A processing device m accordance with any one of claims 19 to 21, wherein the processing device is implemented as a virtual device.
24. A processing device m accordance with any one of claims 19 to 22, wherein the virtual device is implemented on the same hardware as the control apparatus.
25. A method of remotely controlling a processing device, the processing device including application command means including instructions for controlling the device to perform a task m response to inputs to the device, the inputs being input by way of a peripheral operating means, the method comprising the steps of providing inputs from a control apparatus including a command interface, the inputs being inputs to the peripheral operating means, whereby no direct application interface is implemented between the control apparatus and the application command means.
26. A method of controlling a transaction for goods/services effected over a computer network, comprising the steps of providing a processing device including application command means including instructions for controlling communications to/from a payment processing system via a peripheral operating means arranged to receive inputs for processing by the application command means and outputs provided from the application command means, and remotely controlling the device by providing inputs to the peripheral operating means of the processing device from a computer on the network.
27. A computer apparatus arranged to control communications on a computer network and including a command interface for controlling a processing device for controlling communications with a payment processing network, the processing device including application command means including instructions for controlling communications with the payment processing network and a peripheral operating means arranged to receive inputs for processing by the application command means, the computer apparatus being arranged to control the processing device by providing inputs to the peripheral operating means.
28. A method of operating a remote payment transaction by a multiple number of devices, comprising connecting the multiple devices to a control apparatus arranged to robotically control a payment processing device, whereby each of the multiple devices can implement a payment transaction via the control apparatus.
29. A system for operating a remote payment transaction, including a multiple number of processing devices connected to a control apparatus arranged to robotically control a payment processing device, whereby each of the multiple devices can implement a payment transaction via the control apparatus.
30. A computer readable memory storing instructions for controlling a computer to implement a control apparatus m accordance with any one of claims 1 to 9.
31. A computer readable memory storing instructions for controlling computing devices to implement a system in accordance with any one of claims 10 to 18.
32. A computer readable memory storing instructions for controlling a computer to implement a processing device m accordance with any one of claims 19 through 24.
PCT/AU1997/000777 1996-11-12 1997-11-12 Remote control of microprocessor device transactions processing WO1998021674A1 (en)

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