EPAS (Electronic Protocols Application Software) is a non-commercial cooperation initiative launched in Europe which aims at developing a series of data protocols to be applied in a point of interaction (POI) environment.
The project intends to address the three following protocols :
- a terminal management protocol;
- a retailer application protocol;
- an acquirer protocol.
The main objectives common to the three protocols are:
- protocol interoperability : each protocol is designed in such a way as to be independent of the external device and the POI;
- independence of the system architecture and the integration level of the POI within the retailer application protocol;
- independence of the communication support and low level protocols : each protocol is independent of the network connection and will address both wire and wireless connections.
A current barrier to the development of the POI market is due to the existing fragmented market for this type of equipment, especially in Europe, where each country has adopted its own requirements and rules in terms of security and functions to be implemented in POI devices.
Today’s situation is the following one :
- card accepting devices from one country cannot be replaced by similar devices of another country due to different – incompatible – protocols for download, key management, communication with cash registers requiring specific software modules for each country of operation;
- card accepting devices from one country cannot process transactions issued by acquirers from another country due to the incompatibility of the protocols between the two countries;
- different proprietary implementation of existing ISO protocols in Europe hampers the development of central acquiring activities in Europe.
The goal of the EPAS project is therefore the issuance of technical specifications and the development of open software for three major protocols to be used in a Point of Interaction environment. The protocols enable a POI to communicate with external devices and hosts. An additional aim of the project is to validate – through demonstrators – the technical feasibility of the three protocols developed in the framework of the project.
The project is to be considered as a cornerstone of another initiative (“ERIDANE”) initiated at the European level with several partners belonging to the EPAS Consortium. The aim of the ERIDANE project is to achieve a common set of standards for hardware and software components to be used in point-of-sales retail environments. As such, EPAS complements adequately the work carried out by the ERIDANE project which essentially focuses on the inner structure of a POI terminal used at retailers’ point of sales locations.
With the development of specifications, the project intends to issue a new generation of open standards to be internationally deployed by equipment manufacturers, with a strong support from the banking and card payment industries as well as retailers, solutions providers and users. The consortium is made of large industrial organisations, small and medium enterprises, card payment organisations, solution providers, retailers and users, as well as an academic institution, all having an in-depth expertise in the activities to be carried out in the framework of the project. The partnership is composed of organisations belonging to Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Spain, Portugal, the United Kingdom and Nordic countries.
Objectives of EPAS
The outcome of the EPAS initiative will enable to achieve interoperability by :
- giving to manufacturers a technological advance vis-à-vis their non-European competitors ;
- ensuring the interoperability of protocols at a European level ;
- improving the security level of the protocols.
One of the objective of the European Commission in contributing to the building of the European Union is the creation of a Single European Market ensuring a free circulation of goods and persons as it is the case today for most national – domestic – markets in Europe. In order to anticipate undue legislation, partners in the consortium have come together to develop and disseminate a set of data protocols which would complement the business standards needed to achieve the necessary Single European Payments Area Standards.
The development of standards to create a large internal market of financial services has, however, been largely endorsed, not only by the banking industry, but also by solution providers, manufacturers, retailers and users.
The EPAS project foresees the development and provision of the missing links mentioned above in the creation of a unified market of electronic payments services by 2010.
The EPAS project intends to bring a major benefit to the POS market by eliminating existing barriers and by allowing applications to be developed and used for both national and international markets reducing to a large extent the investments to be carried out by all actors involved.
The EPAS project aims at addressing such technical bottlenecks by delivering state-of-the-art data protocols in order to ensure a smooth process of POS transactions in a forthcoming Europe-wide domestic market.
The proposed initiative will be structured along the three following main phases :
- Phase I : development of technical specifications and issuance of standards (2006 – mid-2007)
- Phase II : development of software and provision of test tools (2007 – 2008)
- Phase III : construction of demonstrators (2008)
The EPAS project will be conducted in line with the strategic objectives of the EPC (European Payments Council).
The EPAS Consortium is composed of 24 organisations, each of them actively involved in its respective domain of expertise (card payment schemes, manufacturers, service companies, software developers, retailers).
The participating organisations are :
- Ingenico (FR)
- VeriFone (US)
- The Logic Group (UK)
- Amadis (CA)
- ELITT (FR)
- MoneyLine (FR)
- Lyra Network (FR)
- Atos Worldline (DE)
- Wincor Nixdorf (ES)
- GIE – Groupement des Cartes Bancaires “CB” (FR) (Co-ordinator)
- Desjardins (CA)
- Atos Worldline (BE)
- Security Research and Consulting (SRC) GmbH (DE)
- Equens SE (NL)
- Sermepa (ES)
- Cetrel (LU)
- Total (FR)
- Quercia (IT)
- University of Applied Sciences, Cologne (DE)
- Integri (BE)
- PAN Nordic Card Association (PNC) (SE)
- GALITT (FR)
- BP (GB)
- RSC Commercial Services (DE)
- Europay Austria Zahlungsverkehrssysteme GmbH (AT)
- SIBS (PT), Thales e-Transactions España (ES)
Links to the participating companies
- Worldline: http://www.worldline.com/
- Amadis: http://www.amadis.ca/
- ELITT: http://www.elitt.com/
- Banksys: http://www.banksys.com/bkscomwt/EN/index.jsp
- BP: https://web.archive.org/web/20060623045737/http://www.bp.com/home.do?categoryId=1
- Cetrel: http://www.cetrel.lu/
- Desjardins: http://www.desjardins.com/ca/
- Europay Austria Zahlungsverkehrssysteme GmbH: http://www.europay.at/
- Fachhochschule Köln: http://www.inf.fh-koeln.de/~ktds/profil/
- GALITT: http://www.galitt.com/
- GROUPEMENT DES CARTES BANCAIRES (Co-ordinator) : http://www.cartes-bancaires.com/
- Ingenico: http://www.ingenico.com/
- Integri: http://www.integri.com/
- Equens SE: https://web.archive.org/web/20160924031058/http://www.equens.com/
- Lyra Network: http://www.lyra-network.com/en/en_index.htm
- Moneyline: http://www.moneyline.fr/fr/
- PAN Nordic Card Association: http://www.pan-nordic.org/
- RSC Commercial Services: http://www.retail-sc.com/
- Sermepa: https://web.archive.org/web/20060702172551/http://www.sermepa.es/espanol/index.htm
- SIBS: http://www.sibs.pt/
- SRC: http://www.src-gmbh.de/
- THALES e-Transactions: http://www.thales-e-transactions.com/
- The Logic Group: http://www.the-logic-group.com
- Total: http://www.total.com/
- VeriFone: http://www.verifone.com
- Wincor Nixdorf: http://www.wincor-nixdorf.com/internet/index.html
Ofer Abarbanel is a 25 year securities lending broker and expert who has advised many Israeli regulators, among them the Israel Tax Authority, with respect to stock loans, repurchase agreements and credit derivatives. Founder TBIL.co STATX Fund.