MALVERN, PA -- USA Technologies reports that it has completed the latest upgrade of its ePort Connect service platform, a process undertaken to support the company's growing base of customers and the next generation of services. These include "M2M" applications like mobile payments and marketing. The customer-facing portion of the upgrade was launched in mid-April, with new features and functionality added to its Web-based customer data portal, USALive.
The upgrade incorporates the latest in network server technology, in addition to proprietary software developed to increase capacity and to allow the "seamless" addition of capacity as the connected service base expands.
USA Technologies reported preliminary data for the quarter ended March 31, 2012, indicating that its connected service base had grown to 148,000 cashless and M2M connections -- double what it was two years ago.
In addition, the upgrade enhances the ease with which a greater variety of third-party devices can connect to USAT's ePort Connect. Today, devices from some of the biggest vending machine and kiosk manufacturers in the business can network to the service, including equipment from MEI, Crane Merchandising Systems and AMI Entertainment Network Inc.
Among the enhancements introduced are faster, more customizable (user-defined) reporting capabilities; new lookup capabilities to make searches easier; and additional analytical data for logistics and inventory decisions, aimed at saving smaller businesses the expense of investing in an additional reporting system.
The upgraded ePort Direct platform also offers the ability to accomplish DEX transfers immediately, or by triggering a transfer at a predetermined time when the operator requires it, for added convenience. For example, USA Technologies will have the capability to send machine health alerts directly from the vender to an operator by email or another server using SFTP (secure file transfer protocol).
Within 30 days, USAT plans to add the option of including MDB (multi-drop bus) alerts to the information captured, to provide better payment device diagnostics for bill acceptors and coin mechanisms.
"We expanded our capacity for growth by moving to industry-leading computing infrastructure," said USAT chairman and chief executive Stephen P. Herbert. Moreover, the company made important upgrades to proprietary and third-party software to improve system performance and the ability to scale efficiently, Herbert added.
"We also improved card user experience, cutting approximate authentication times from swipe to approval in half," the USAT chairman reported. "In addition, users of our cloud-based data reporting system will see an improved USALive that is easier to navigate, customize and automate for faster access to valuable information to manage their businesses.
"Finally, we made what we believe to be important enhancements to our ePort Connect service infrastructure that set the stage for new forms of revenue growth, from the hosting of more third-party hardware to expanded services that stem from the emerging trends in M2M applications and NFC [near field communication] mobile payment," Herbert summarized.
The company's recently introduced Two-Tier Pricing program, which includes the ability to assign discount cash prices to individual machines by effective over-the-air updates, is an example of the growing adaptability of the system, he added.
EPort Connect is a PCI-compliant, end-to-end suite of cashless payment and telemetry services tailored to fit the needs of the small-ticket, self-service retail industries.