Taking the pain out of payments
Innovation Profile AmaTech:Anyone who has received a new style Visa Debit card from their bank will probably have noticed a new feature on it – a contactless payment facility. This allows low-value transactions – less than €15 in Ireland – to be conducted simply by passing the card over a machine reader.
There is no need to insert the card into a reader or even touch the reader with the card and no PIN is required. It’s quick and easy and makes things a lot more convenient both for cardholders and retailers.
This new payment mechanism is enabled by a microchip and antenna embedded inside the card itself. The chip and antenna receive power transmitted by the machine reader and they transmit the information required for the payment back to it.
This is the same technology now in use in passports worldwide. Those queues at passport control in Dublin Airport could soon be a thing of the past if the hardware to read passports electronically is installed.
This would allow everyone with a modern passport simply to wave it over a reader with all their information appearing on screen in front of the person at the checkpoint. No need to hand a passport over for a person to scan it or physically read it again, making the process a lot quicker and easier.
But there are some drawbacks to the new technology, and Irish company AmaTech is at the forefront of developing solutions to them. These issues include difficulties encountered with the actual insertion of the electronic components into the cards or documents, and problems with the connection between the chip and the antenna.
“Our founder and chief executive David Finn has written over 50 patents in this area and wrote the original patent for electronic card inlays back in the 1990s,” says AmaTech financial controller Mark Rafferty.
“The company is structured around his background and we have two divisions – an inlay production facility in Galway which develops and manufactures products for the electronic inlay industry and a machine engineering business in the Bavarian Alps which offers proprietary engineering expertise for production platform development for the industry.”
The German division is very important as it means that the company has the capacity to design and develop the machinery required to manufacture and implement its own inventions and innovations. “Research and development are at the core of the company,” says Rafferty.
“Having the two divisions means we can work with the production and machine engineering guys at the same time. For example, if a new bank card comes out with a new type of electronic inlay inside it our engineering group can look at that to design the machine required to manufacture it. This is important to the industry which wants to be able to manufacture the cards as efficiently as possible.”