Secure mobile point-of-sales device

Development of secure mobile point-of-sales (mPOS) devices

For thumbzup Innovations, South Africa.   2012 – 2016.

The card reader provides secure chip-and-pin transactions in a mobile environment.  By providing a high level of security and encryption on the card reader, a customer can safely use an untrusted device, such as a merchant’s mobile phone to complete transactions.  The mobile phone provides the main user interface, and conveys encrypted communication to the back-end servers.  thumbzup Innovations is a financial technology start-up; this card reader implements the card acceptance aspect of their full stack payment processing solution.


I was involved from proof-of-concept, through development of a certified product, to volume manufacturing.  Due to the financial application of product, it is subject to stringent certification requirements.  I was specifically responsible for ensuring that it passed the EMV L1 contact and L1 contactless testing.  In addition, PCI certification is required to guarantee security.  These constraints necessitated close integration between the mechanical design, electronics and software teams.

In my role as senior engineer, I was responsible for:

  • Electronic design for both product and programming/testing infrastructure.
  • Product engineering: solving problems across multiple domains, with constant attention to security and manufacturability.
  • Hardware security design for PCI PED.
  • Firmware development.
  • EMV L1 contact terminal type approval.
  • EMV L1 contactless terminal type approval.

The resulting product is being used in South Africa and Australia, and is one of the lowest cost PCI-certified card readers in use.  This enables a new set of small businesses and entrepreneurs.

View CNN coverage here.