The purpose of this article is to familiarize you with the features that a terminal management system needs to have in order for you to be able to rely on it. Payment terminal management systems are intended for different needs, which arise while operating the terminals.
These needs include:
- re-injection (changing) of encryption keys;
- remote update of parameters;
- updates of the application, installed on the terminal,
- other needs.
There are several options you can choose from if you need a terminal management system (TMS):
- develop your own TMS
- choose one of the existing systems and license it,
- choose some other option.
There are many different TMSs that can be deployed on premises, or used as hosted solutions.
Regardless of whether you are going to build your terminal management system yourself, or prefer some other option, it is important to understand in detail some of the features that you will be looking for.
Functions of a terminal management system
A TMS must be able to perform the following functions.
- Configure some parameters inside the terminal. For example, you have to define, which card types a terminal is going to accept, which application IDs (AIDs) will be accepted on EMV transactions, what the floor limits will be, etc.
- Perform remote key injection (in some cases). There are some types of keys that can not be injected remotely, either because it is physically impossible, or, mostly, because of the regulations; however, there are some other encryption keys, which you definitely need to remotely inject. For example, while remote injection of PIN debit encryption keys is not a very popular practice, remote injection of CA (certification authority) public keys for EMV is used quite widely;
- Perform remote updates. For example, from time to time you have to introduce changes into the software installed on your terminals (including applications, associated libraries, and underlying kernels on the remote terminals);
- Collect statistical information from the terminals and generate appropriate reports or alerts. For example, if a terminal gets restarted too often, a software update fails, or some untypical situation occurs in terms of card types, offline approvals, etc. Statistical information also concerns the current condition of the terminal, availability of free disc space, memory, number of installed applications and libraries, current software version, etc.
- Manage the terminal’s lifecycle. Ideally, it should manage the terminal from the point of order through fulfillment into final deployment to the merchant, activation, and subsequent processing. For example, it is important to identify when a terminal is activated at a fulfillment center, when it is shipped and deployed at a merchant’s location.
- Remotely manage advertising materials, such as videos, image-based slide-shows, etc. For example, you may want to display different images and videos every month, depending on the promotions that are happening in the store. Regularly updated advertising content is, in fact, an instrument of targeted marketing.
A terminal management system is an essential component of any embedded payment terminal solution. If you choose to implement such a solution, you definitely have to analyze the functions you need your TMS to perform in the context of your business, and carefully select the solution which is optimal in terms of both budget and functionality.