Is An Embedded Or Non-Embedded Terminal Solution Best For Your Business?

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in Blog
on Tuesday, 21 April 2015 11:24


If you’re having trouble understanding the differences between a non-embedded or local footprint terminal solution and a modern embedded terminal solution, it may help to learn a bit more about each type and its advantages and disadvantages.

The Local Footprint Solution

A local footprint or non-embedded terminal solution is also called a DLL-based solution and involves the terminal being a slave to a master program that controls it. This controller is usually a Dynamic Link Library or DLL mini-program and is installed at a workstation. This old approach evolved when terminal didn’t have their own Ethernet connections and were controlled via serial port.
Advantages to this terminal solution include:

  • ŸWide industry acceptance
  • ŸWide availability, and
  • ŸOn-demand fulfillment since non-maker components aren’t usually required.

Disadvantages to a local footprint solution include:

  • ŸPA-DSS requirement. Since cardholder data flows through a merchant’s network, Payment Application Data Security Standard or PA-DSS certification may be required to deploy the terminal solution in a pre-existing PCI-compliant environment, then future software changes are difficult because expensive recertification is required.
  • ŸPoint-to-point encryption issues. True P2PE implementation is impossible without logic at the terminal or going through the complicated and expensive PA-DSS certification process on the card encrypting code, and PCI auditors do not agree on whether non-embedded P2PE solutions are certifiable for taking POS systems out of the PCI-compliance scope.
  • ŸUpdates when not bundled. When the code is part of a main application, updates can be handled as part of that primary application’s updates. When code is not bundled, a management system or procedure is required to carry out updates.

In addition, there can be increased costs from having to use components that have extra software licensing costs. The solution is also often tied to a specific operating system, so support for new operating systems may not be available.

The Embedded Solution

A modern alternative that treats the terminal as an independent processing server that takes control instructions from high-level API protocols from a remote client, the processing logic for all financial and non-financial operations is in the terminal. Scope of exposure is reduced because the connection to the processing gateway is usually direct.

Advantages include:

  • ŸNo local footprint where it isn’t wanted, a key advantage
  • ŸSimplified flow, meaning that the direct communication of cardholder data over the terminal’s Ethernet connection leaves the POS and workstation out of the PCI-compliance scope
  • ŸCross-platform accessibility so that the solution is available to any environment that can interact with the terminal’s API, including mobile devices
  • ŸSimplified point-to-point encryption that can be audited and certified to take the merchant out of the PCI scope

Disadvantages of the modern embedded terminal solution include:

  • ŸFulfillment and injection limitations. Specialized software must be loaded into the terminal, and P2PE technology requires key injections. Not all terminal fulfillment centers are equipped or certified to do this.
  • ŸEthernet connection requirement. The full benefit of an embedded terminal solution requires an Ethernet or wireless connection from the terminal to the gateway.
  • ŸRemote updates. Local updating is necessary within the terminal to deliver configurations and software upgrades, so a terminal management system must be used.

PayVisors can help you decide which type of terminal solution is right for you. In many cases, that’s the UniRead solution, part of the UniPay payment gateway software. This unified solution is open source, provides for many different integration strategies, can handle multiple concurrent POS clients, offers an integrated terminal management system and has been developed so that the certification process is easy.

Would you like to know more about terminal solutions? Contact our team of payment processing professionals right away. We’ll help you make the right decision -- the one that’s best for your business.

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