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Case Study: Bringing electronic payments to a cash-driven industry

Case Study: Bringing electronic payments to a cash-driven industry

SUMMARY

Polar Moment designed, developed and implemented the technology for disruptive payments start-up, Game Payment Technology. Latitude 91, Polar Moment’s parent company, is one of the shareholders.

 

Prior to the introduction of Game Payment, gaming and amusement machines were only able to be paid for using cash. Card payments directly onto fruit machines are illegal. Polar Moment designed a compliant, secure and easy-to-use payment app for these machines.

The solution comprises custom hardware, embedded software, mobile apps and cloud services hosted in AWS.

SYSTEM OVERVIEW

In-machine hardware:

 

Polar Moment designed custom interface boards, enabling cashless payments to and from fruit machines that use the ccTalk protocol. When combined with a Raspberry Pi and software developed by Polar Moment, this hardware unit (a TP-SLU) provides a secure interface between the gaming machine, a player’s device, and the cloud services and wallet.

The TQ-SLU  (pictured left) shares a lot of components with the TP-SLU but is suitable for machines that use a pulse line to apply credit. The unit is also based upon a Raspberry Pi and secure software developed by Polar Moment.

The TR-SLU (pictured right) uses a powerful security chip and embedded software to support battery-powered machines – mainly pool tables. This device was designed to only draw a few microamps of current to avoid reducing the battery life significantly.

A software-based solution was also developed for digital fruit machines.

 

Mobile applications:

Players can download the Polar Moment-developed Game Payment app (pictured left), free, from the Apple or Google stores.

 

This app was developed in React Native using Expo. The app allows players to register their credentials. These are all managed in AWS’s Cognito service. Players verify their age by simply taking a selfie if they wish to use the app to play on gaming machines. We use AI technology provided by Yoti to do this.

Each player can securely top-up and withdraw from their eMoney wallet using a debit card. Polar Moment integrated the system with Cybersource’s and Barclaycard’s payment processing services. Players then simply connect the app to a machine over Bluetooth or by scanning a QR code presented by gaming machine, then transfer funds from their wallet with a button press.

 

Polar Moment also developed a dedicated app for engineers who need to service machines in the field. This allows them to check machine health and perform maintenance tasks.

 

Additionally, a reporting application was developed using AWS QuickSight to provide access and insights to data, including machine learning powered forecasting. Machine operators can view real-time transactional data as well as health data including reports on the battery levels in pool tables. This allows pool table operators to proactively replace batteries before they run too low.

 

Cloud services:

 

The cloud services designed and developed by Polar Moment all use Amazon Web Services’ serverless capabilities.

 

An API is used to provide access to services used by players, engineers, operators and partners. These APIs, called lambda functions, were developed mainly in NodeJS and interact with an Aurora MySQL Serverless v2 database.  The services are designed to scale up and down depending on the load placed on the system. The Game Payment system can support tens of thousands of  users without changing the system configuration.

 

  • A RESTful API allows operators to query their data from the Game Payment system. They can information on machine performance and player metrics in near real-time.
  • Audit services run regularly to ensure the integrity of the data held by Game Payment, as well as alert on potential anomalies using CloudWatch Alarms.
  • A settlement service ensures that the correct amounts of money are paid to Game Payment’s customers (the machine operators) each week. Wallet balances are checked each banking day.

Security:

 

The entire Game Payment system has been subject to rigorous third-party penetration testing to ensure the security of the hardware and software.

 

Amazon services are used to monitor the configuration and security of the services and detect any changes from the standard configuration.

THE RESULTS

  • The Game Payment system has enjoyed an impeccable record of 100% uptime since it went live.
  • Player adoption of the app and the eMoney Wallet continues to grow each month.
  • App reviews received in the stores are overwhelmingly positive.
  • Operators now have a cashless option for an industry that was previously cash-driven. They are seeing the benefits of protecting their revenues even though cash use is declining.
  • Operators, the industry, and regulators are gaining insights into the spending patterns that are not possible when cash is used.

OPERATOR’S FEEDBACK

AMS have been advocates of this product since inception and we are now focusing all our product purchasing on models that are Game Payment-enabled. We greatly value this additional payment method and consider it crucial for continued revenue growth.”

 

Jason Jarrett, managing director at AMS.

 

…the lack of cash on site meant we needed a cashless solution for our pool tables. Fitting the TR-SLUs was extremely quick and easy and there’s the added bonus of being able to monitor battery voltages as well. Since the installation, we have seen a steady uplift in takings overall, together with a week on week increase of app usage. Cashless is definitely the future and this solution has enabled Amusement Caterers to be there at the start of the inevitable transition in a simple and cost-effective way.”

 

Andrew Cater, owner of Amusement Caterers.

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Case Study: Deployment of an AWS environment for a phonics teaching platform

Case Study: Deployment of an AWS environment for a phonics teaching platform

THE CLIENT

Our client offers books and literacy resources to schools for their classrooms and libraries.

 

Their phonics teaching platform is a new online resource supported by a programme of decodable phonics readers. It has been developed by experienced teachers, currently working in the classroom, and is supported with Continuing Professional Development (CPD) training.

THE CHALLENGE

The programme was based on the Django web framework developed by a third-party supplier.

 

Our client approached us as they needed a robust, secure, scalable, and affordable approach to hosting their phonics teaching programme.

 

… and it all needed to be live within two weeks!

OUR APPROACH

We decided to host the application within Amazon Web Services (AWS). Polar Moment is proud to be a Consulting Partner with AWS.

 

The first step was to transfer the existing domain to Amazon’s Route53 DNS service.

 

Polar Moment created an AWS account and built the infrastructure required to host the application within AWS’s London region. This included the creation of a virtual private cloud to isolate the resources and then the service necessary to deploy the programme.

 

These resources included:

  • An application load balancer with the domain security certificate installed (managed by AWS Certificate Manager).
  • An EC2 instance to run the Django web server and an auto-scaling group to handle peaks in load.

The database was created in RDS and S3 was used for storing the media. The CloudFront content delivery network was used to deliver the content to end users.

 

Paul Deed, CTO of Polar Moment commented: “The customer approached us with some very compressed timescales to move their service from development to a production environment, ready for a launch. Our team were able to quickly understand the client’s hosting requirements including security, geographic availability, user volumes, and scalability. We built an AWS environment capable of hosting the anticipated workload, which can now scale as needed”.

THE RESULTS

Polar Moment trained both the client and the third-party developer in how to access the AWS environment and deploy the Django-based application.

 

The monitoring of the infrastructure and its health was automated by Polar Moment. Alerts in CloudWatch are sent to the client for action as and when needed.

 

The infrastructure provided by Polar Moment on AWS continues to deliver the reliable, secure, and performant service required by our client’s customers.

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Case Study: Red Bee Media Live Subtitling

Case Study: Red Bee Media

Subito live subtitling platform

In 2010 Red Bee Media decided that they needed to replace the system used to produce live subtitling for the BBC, Channel 4, and other broadcasters. Subsequently, Polar Moment, with excellent experience in high-performance transaction processing and database systems, was chosen to develop the new system from the ground up. The new system, Subito, brought with it a number of benefits to the business; collaborative working, rapid re-­use, and extending the system to include metadata. Furthermore, it also incorporates a more modern voice recognition system (Dragon Naturally Speaking) as well as input from standard and stenography keyboards.

High-performance live subtitling

Since then, Red Bee Media has become Ericsson Broadcast and Media Services (EBMS). The Subito live subtitling system developed by Polar Moment has delivered high performance, excellent quality, and superb reliability. Since its first release in 2013, Subito has rolled out around the world, with services in Canada and Australia recently being added to those already in place in the UK, France, Spain, and the Netherlands.

Simon Brand, Head of Programme Delivery and Operational Excellence, EBMS, commented:

 

“Throughout our relationship with Polar Moment, I’ve always been pleased and impressed with the support we’ve received. There’s an enthusiasm, attention to detail, and level of engagement that sets them apart. Earlier this year we suffered two P0 situations in two different countries within days of each other, both around high-profile launch events, including one in the middle of a weekend. What I saw from Polar Moment was a standard of response well beyond anything I had experienced from other suppliers throughout my time here. Both issues were quickly resolved, and both launches were successful. Dealing as we do, in broadcast critical systems around the world, we’re inherently in a highly demanding and highly visible position. The fact that Polar Moment deliver very much at the upper end of our expectations, even in that context, is testament to the quality of the team there”.

Quality support service

Polar Moment provides a 24×7 support service for Subito. This support was called upon in the run-up to the live launches in Canada and Australia. Polar Moment staff were able to respond to, and resolve, business critical issues quickly allowing EBMS to meet their contractual deadlines with two new customers.

EBMS continues to invest in the system, which is being continually developed on their behalf by Polar Moment. Ericsson creates over 200,000 hours of captioning globally each year, 80,000 of which are live, consistently meeting the required minimum 99.8% uptime and 98% accuracy requirements.

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Design, development, installation and deployment of payment systems at Mi-Pay

Design, Development, Installation, and Deployment of Payment Systems at Mi-Pay

Established in 2003 to provide innovative digital payment solutions, Mi-Pay provides a portfolio of mobile payment services for mobile operators and financial service providers. Following continued growth, the company has become a leader in the mobile payments market. Its mission is to build solutions and services that provide the most efficient business processes for re-charging pre-paid accounts and low-value micropayment operations globally.

Mi-Pay offers a complete service for mobile operators, delivering cost reductions when managing pre-pay and post-pay payment services enabling operators to improve ARPU. The company delivers both business and technical operations covering all direct channel top-ups including internet, IVR, SMS, mobile applications and ATM.

Mi-Pay also provides a portal for the consumers to manage their pre-pay accounts from the web or mobile handset. Consumers can review their transactions, amend personal and payment details, and manage automatic top-ups. Through the use of these online services Mi-Pay delivers a superior level of customer service whilst lowering administrative and support costs.

Business and technical consultancy

Mi-Pay uses a complex and feature-rich Postilion system at the core of its transaction processing solution, successfully integrating RealTime and Office systems with its groundbreaking mobile payment platforms. Mi-Pay is continuing to push the boundaries of the Postilion solution by developing its own innovative applications using the Postilion software development kit.

Polar Moment has considerable knowledge and expertise of the Postilion solution and has worked with Mi-Pay on a number of projects including the development of automated regression test solutions, system analysis and design, installation, configuration and deployment of Postilion-based solutions, and software development.

Automated regression testing

Mi-Pay had experienced rapid business growth following the acquisition of several new customer contracts. Each new customer involved a software development project and, given the multiple client requirements, Mi-Pay’s existing test approaches and systems were no longer able to meet the increasing demands placed on the business. To support the continued business growth, Mi-Pay required sophisticated test solutions for its platform. Aimed at improving the productivity of its test activities, the test solutions would introduce
strong functional testing tools as well as highly-effective regression testing.

Mi-Pay needed a partner which could provide unparalleled knowledge and experience of card payment systems as well as practical experience in implementing high-volume critical processing solutions. The Mi-Pay management team were aware of the Polar Moment consultants who are recognised names in the payments industry. The Polar Moment technicians rapidly understood Mi-Pay’s business and technical requirements as well as its technical platforms which included its Postilion solution.

The Polar Moment team successfully delivered the sophisticated test solution required by Mi-Pay. This enabled the company to achieve its quality and efficiency objective and – three years later – these tools are still in use. Following the success of this project, Polar Moment was asked to continue to work with Mi-Pay for ongoing assignments.

System analysis and design

Polar Moment has completed several analysis and design assignments for Mi-Pay, including a significant project for du, one of only two national mobile phone providers in the United Arab Emirates. Implementation of du’s complete consumer payment platform is a major triumph for Mi-Pay. Following delivery of the core payment platform, du had new requirements which necessitated significant upgrades to the Mi-Pay platform. Upgrades included the development of transactional and management information interfaces between the two organisations, enhanced user administration and allowing additional payment types and channels. Given the scale and importance of the projects, it was essential that Mi-Pay delivered.

Mi-Pay required technically competent staff that it could trust to deliver the right solution to the end client. It was important that the team provided understood the Postilion solutions, the Mi-Pay platforms and possessed excellent knowledge of the payments industry in general. The selected team would be working directly with du thus good client-facing skills and the ability to instil confidence and trust were also imperative. Polar Moment was selected to provide the systems analysis and design services for the du project. The team built a strong working relationship with the end-client based on successful delivery of key outcomes.

The feedback received from du was extremely positive and the work of the Polar Moment consultants proved invaluable to the success of the project.

Software development

Mi-Pay had elected to outsource its Postilion software development activities to offshore locations – retaining responsibility for the project management, analysis, design and acceptance testing elements. Mi-Pay experienced a number of issues with software development due to the specialist nature of the Postilion product, including the following:

Delivered components did not accurately reflect business processes as development specifications contained insufficient detail to be fully understood by the software developers.

 

  • The work effort quoted by the offshore developers was significantly higher than expected owing to their lack of knowledge of the Postilion system.
  • Project deadlines were frequently missed because it took a long time for each new resource to become skilled in Postilion development.
  • Software which was delivered was often of a poor quality, causing further delays and customer dissatisfaction.
  • Communication between UK and non-UK development teams proved difficult incurring excessive management overheads to keep control of the software developments.

As a result, Mi-Pay opted to bring their software development in-house and approached Polar Moment to deliver the required level of Postilion skills.

The Polar Moment team already had a proven track record in delivering successful software development projects for Mi-Pay and was able to provide a core team of developers from the its head office in UK, backed-up by additional resources from the company’s Czech Republic office.

As well as delivering on-site resources to manage all Postilion development, the Polar Moment team also acts as a reference point for any related production or project issues.

Outcome

Demonstrating extensive Postilion skills and expertise, as well as an overall knowledge of the payments industry, Polar Moment has become a valued partner to Mi-Pay. Delivering significant business value, MiPay has continued to trust Polar Moment with its core processing and is currently working to help deliver Mi-Pay’s next generation mobile-payments solution.

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Polar Moment assists Euronet in delivering SEPA compliant cross-border processing solution

Polar Moment Assists Euronet in Delivering SEPA-compliant Crossborder Processing Solution

Euronet is an industry leader in processing secure electronic financial transactions – serving clients in over 130 countries worldwide and processing over one billion payment transactions annually.

The company has an enviable and extensive client base and offers EFT software, network gateways and electronic, prepaid top-up services to financial institutions, mobile operators and retailers across the globe.

In 2007, Euronet signed a long-term agreement with a leading oil and gas group, OMV, to deliver its first SEPA-compliant, cross-border transaction processing solution. OMV wished to migrate decentralised acquiring operations across 12 countries into one single, central, SEPA-compliant processing platform. Upon full rollout, the Euronet platform will cover approximately 5,000 POS terminals as well as POS management and fuel card
authorisation services.

Cross-border, multi-currency payment solution

Euronet implemented a cross-border, multi-currency card payments and fuel card solution to enable retailers to send all of their transactions for processing to a single payment processor. The system provided support for EMV Chip and Pin cards and was implemented using a sophisticated Postilion system. In 2007, OMV became the first customer to adopt the new Euronet system. The system enables OMV to implement the same point of sale systems and technical infrastructure in every country, negating the need for multiple acquiring relationships, and enabling the retailer to operate a single head office accounts department.

 

Faced with complex and feature-rich customer requirements, aggressive project timescales and a requirement to provide experienced support functions to meet the expectations of OMV, Euronet chose Polar Moment – the leading provider of business and technical consultancy to the payments industry.

Postilion delivery

The implemented solution was based on a sophisticated Postilion platform and, as such, relied heavily on access to experienced payment technicians to deliver the following:

 

  • Preparation of test plans, scenarios and cases for point of sale and centralised processing functions.
  • Technical support to set-up a series of test and production environments to prove the system
    deliverables.
  • A project team to liaise with the vendor on all technical matters.

Successful delivery of the project was reliant on in-depth knowledge of the Postilion system and considerable technical expertise. Euronet selected Polar Moment in the delivery of the OMV project.

The Polar Moment team took the lead in coordinating all Postilion-related activities, adding significant value to the project. Using its strong network across the payments industry, Polar Moment was able to provide Euronet with a team of nine highly experienced payment consultants within a matter of weeks. The Polar Moment consultants liaised with senior teams within Euronet and OMV to fully understand the business and technical drivers for the project. The team’s strong customer focus enabled Polar Moment to develop an
understanding of the cross-cultural requirements necessary to deliver the project successfully.

Polar Moment facilitated the preparation of testing activities for point of sale and centralised processing functions, proving key deliverables of the Postilion platform. Providing a highly qualified project team that could liaise directly with the vendor on technical matters, Polar Moment ensured that system specifications were implemented according to the design. All software upgrades and patches from the payment system vendor were checked for functional correctness before being passed to the test team. The project team also
supported the integration of Postilion elements with other Euronet applications. To ensure that the project continued to deliver added value to OMV once implemented, the Polar Moment team also:

 

  • Provided Postilion configuration support for updates such as adding new card types or rolling-out the service to additional countries.
  • Installed and configured software updates from the vendor onto test servers and provided initial testing before passing to the test team.
  • Completed go-live activities and liaised with the productions operations team for handover to live processing.

Production operations

Euronet relied on a team with strong knowledge and expertise working with Postilion systems. Polar Moment was selected to support the complex and feature-rich Postilion platform and to provide an extensive Postilion support function.

To support Euronet in the implementation of the OMV system, Polar Moment provided a team of experienced Postilion production support engineers. As well as providing a head of production operations to manage the entire platform, Polar Moment provided experienced Postilion technicians to focus on the elements of the live system. The Production operations team was in place, trained and ready for live operations in time for the scheduled implementation of the project.

Polar Moment also provided an on-call team that was available to respond immediately to any live issues, ensuring the system remained available to OMV 24hours per day. The team also provided a technical interface between Euronet and Postilion – diagnosing any application-specific problems and communicating them to Postilion, so that appropriate fixes could be provided quickly and efficiently.

Active/Active

In addition to standard operations, Polar Moment provided support in the implementation of a highly complex Postilion Active/ Active configuration, in support of providing extremely high system availability by mirroring transactions between two live data centres on a real-time transaction by transaction basis. By supporting the Postilion Active/Active implementation, Polar Moment helped to ensure that downtime was reduced, thus ensuring very high availability to the end customer.

The Active/ Active configuration provided an effective disaster recovery system, eliminating a major technical risk.

Cross-training of in-house staff

To ensure the continued success of the project, Polar Moment provided training to Euronet’s in-house team so that they could take ownership of their own platform.

Outcome

Polar Moment simplified the roll-out of Euronet’s SEPA-compliant processing platform by providing exceptionally high levels of Postilion expertise and technical knowledge. Building an excellent rapport with OMV and delivering a strong customer focus, Polar Moment helped Euronet to achieve an outstandingly high level of customer satisfaction.

Polar Moment’s consultants were part of the Euronet core team in ensuring that this pioneering Postilion implementation was successful and was one of the first consultancies to provide Euronet with resources for the OMV project. The team has continued to exceed expectations and is now the only provider to still have consultants working on the project today.