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Author Topic: Casascius Bitcoin POS system  (Read 9323 times)
Littleshop
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October 01, 2011, 03:05:04 PM
 #21

I was able to incorporate qrencode into the source, and got it to print the QR codes on the printer, as well as show one on the screen.  This is the first time I have ever made a VeriFone POS machine render a QR code, but it seems to have worked pretty well.

I pushed the relevant code to github.



I could obtain a vx570 in about a month and help do testing.   Are there any other models that run similar code?


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ercolinux
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October 01, 2011, 05:43:12 PM
 #22

I'm searchin one to make some test too here in Italy: which models are compatible with your code?

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October 01, 2011, 05:55:24 PM
 #23

Very cool!

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October 01, 2011, 06:24:02 PM
 #24

Having a second machine would not be too hard for most stores if it saved them a few percent on some sales. 

I doubt most merchants would want a second machine just for Bitcoin. Why spend $250 for another machine when you could just have Bitcoin capability on your cell phone for free?

It needs to be integrated or it will not be used. I understand the difficulties in doing so. Someone should be able to come up with something.

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October 01, 2011, 06:36:58 PM
 #25

Having a second machine would not be too hard for most stores if it saved them a few percent on some sales.  

I doubt most merchants would want a second machine just for Bitcoin. Why spend $250 for another machine when you could just have Bitcoin capability on your cell phone for free?

It needs to be integrated or it will not be used. I understand the difficulties in doing so. Someone should be able to come up with something.

Smartphone requires that both parts have a smartphone with the bitcoin software, and is not appliable if you've a worker in the shop.
That kind of POS can be used even by a non tech (and I mean a non tech customer): you give him a card, put some $$$ on it (paying in cash) and then use like a normal credit card.

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October 01, 2011, 06:53:59 PM
 #26

Having a second machine would not be too hard for most stores if it saved them a few percent on some sales. 

I doubt most merchants would want a second machine just for Bitcoin. Why spend $250 for another machine when you could just have Bitcoin capability on your cell phone for free?

It needs to be integrated or it will not be used. I understand the difficulties in doing so. Someone should be able to come up with something.

Due to the strict device signing used by credit card companies I really doubt this could happen.  They don't want to help bitcoin along at all. 

If you can use a smartphone POS solution that is great, and I think many merchants will go that route.  But the more choices the better, and a machine like this one would pay for itself in one year with $400 a month in bitcoin transactions instead of credit card.  Clearly someone who does little volume won't use this but an established store with real volume would find it of value.  It could be more locked down then a smartphone application.

 

casascius
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October 01, 2011, 06:58:52 PM
 #27

I doubt most merchants would want a second machine just for Bitcoin. Why spend $250 for another machine when you could just have Bitcoin capability on your cell phone for free?

It needs to be integrated or it will not be used. I understand the difficulties in doing so. Someone should be able to come up with something.

I suppose your doubt would ring true for many merchants.  And for many others, the machine would make sense.  A lot of businesses are hurting and don't have $250 to spare.  To others, $250 is negligible.

If you're the boss, you don't want your employees being able to anonymously pocket your cryptocurrency.  A machine like this allows you to delegate receiving bitcoins to your employees - in a drop-dead simple way - so that you don't have to yourself.  Once they've been collected by the machine, only you have access to them, not your employees.

The machine prints paper receipts, which are useful for implementing all sorts of controls, none of this is possible with a smartphone.  And the dedicated machine is always on and ready to go.  If a customer is waiting for a payment to go through, the employee can do something else or work on the next customer while waiting for the machine to beep, rather than fidgeting with the refresh button on the smartphone.

Bottom line - there IS a demand for this.  Many businesses want to accept bitcoin, but can't get past "where do I start".  This machine would be an answer: "buy this and plug it in."

Companies claiming they got hacked and lost your coins sounds like fraud so perfect it could be called fashionable.  I never believe them.  If I ever experience the misfortune of a real intrusion, I declare I have been honest about the way I have managed the keys in Casascius Coins.  I maintain no ability to recover or reproduce the keys, not even under limitless duress or total intrusion.  Remember that trusting strangers with your coins without any recourse is, as a matter of principle, not a best practice.  Don't keep coins online. Use paper wallets instead.
ercolinux
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October 01, 2011, 07:09:08 PM
 #28


Bottom line - there IS a demand for this.  Many businesses want to accept bitcoin, but can't get past "where do I start".  This machine would be an answer: "buy this and plug it in."

And adding to the POS a rechargable credit card bitcoin wallet let even non tech savy customer to use them even if they don't have a PC at home

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October 01, 2011, 07:10:07 PM
 #29

I just downloaded some random pdf book full of blurbage from Verifone Devnet. Here's what I read there:
Quote
3, 4, or 6 MB of memory and the dynamic memory allocation of the Verix V
OS, support two or three typical-sized applications on a single terminal.
Is it 3, 4 or 6? And how much of that is left for the application to use?

In light of the above the whole project looks science-fiction-ey to me.

Please comment, critique, criticize or ridicule BIP 2112: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=54382.0
Long-term mining prognosis: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=91101.0
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October 01, 2011, 07:11:01 PM
 #30

Due to the strict device signing used by credit card companies I really doubt this could happen.  They don't want to help bitcoin along at all. 

With respect to a VeriFone Vx terminal, if the device boots up and has the words "DEFAULT CERTIFICATE" on the boot splash screen, it's not locked down and will run binaries signed by the "default certificate" provided in the SDK, assuming the default password to reach the download menu hasn't been changed (it usually is left at the default).

Companies claiming they got hacked and lost your coins sounds like fraud so perfect it could be called fashionable.  I never believe them.  If I ever experience the misfortune of a real intrusion, I declare I have been honest about the way I have managed the keys in Casascius Coins.  I maintain no ability to recover or reproduce the keys, not even under limitless duress or total intrusion.  Remember that trusting strangers with your coins without any recourse is, as a matter of principle, not a best practice.  Don't keep coins online. Use paper wallets instead.
casascius
Mike Caldwell
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October 01, 2011, 07:15:14 PM
 #31

I just downloaded some random pdf book full of blurbage from Verifone Devnet. Here's what I read there:
Quote
3, 4, or 6 MB of memory and the dynamic memory allocation of the Verix V
OS, support two or three typical-sized applications on a single terminal.
Is it 3, 4 or 6? And how much of that is left for the application to use?

In light of the above the whole project looks science-fiction-ey to me.


Memory capacity is an option.  The memory goes a long way on these terminals.  I have never run out.  Factors:
* the CPU can execute code directly out of its flash memory filesystem, rather than copying it into RAM, which is actually quite unusual but also saves lots of memory as the code won't occupy any of it
* many of the libs and SDK functions are implemented in the device's firmware, the part you link into your binary merely makes a syscall to get at it
* the device regularly uses thumb (compact ARM encoding) which makes the binaries even smaller

Even my biggest VeriFone project took no more than a few hundred kilobytes, most of that being statically linked support for SSL.  Obviously the machine isn't going to be able to hold the blockchain.  But as the client part of a client/server app, the memory capacity is not an issue.

Companies claiming they got hacked and lost your coins sounds like fraud so perfect it could be called fashionable.  I never believe them.  If I ever experience the misfortune of a real intrusion, I declare I have been honest about the way I have managed the keys in Casascius Coins.  I maintain no ability to recover or reproduce the keys, not even under limitless duress or total intrusion.  Remember that trusting strangers with your coins without any recourse is, as a matter of principle, not a best practice.  Don't keep coins online. Use paper wallets instead.
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October 01, 2011, 08:09:57 PM
 #32

good work!!

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2112
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October 01, 2011, 08:30:12 PM
 #33

The memory goes a long way on these terminals.  I have never run out.
[...]
But as the client part of a client/server app, the memory capacity is not an issue.
I want to belive you and yet my experience tells me that there's something fishy here.

Run-from-flash on a cache-less ARM is definitely possible but also definitely very slow. It may be OK for driving a modem, but most likely it will not be OK for any real crypto application.

As far as I know, the SSL and TCP/IP implementations sold by Verifone (licensed from Windriver?) are seriously crippled by implementing only minimal subsets of the full functionality, suitable to run only on LANs or WLANs with low packet loss.

If the whole project get from the start rearchitectured to dumb-wimpy-client/smart-ruddy-server that would increase the chances of achieving something that is both deliverable and maintainable in case of the future need for modifications.

Admittently I don't have an actual experience with Verifone's hardware, but we had to deal with something very similar. In the end the acceptable and secure solution required about 5-15 seconds wait to respond to the keypresses. And  this was after immense time spent optimizing the C code with hand-crafted assembly.

Please comment, critique, criticize or ridicule BIP 2112: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=54382.0
Long-term mining prognosis: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=91101.0
casascius
Mike Caldwell
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October 01, 2011, 09:15:47 PM
 #34

I want to belive you and yet my experience tells me that there's something fishy here.

Run-from-flash on a cache-less ARM is definitely possible but also definitely very slow. It may be OK for driving a modem, but most likely it will not be OK for any real crypto application.

We're talking a machine designed to exchange transactions that weigh in at between 0.5 and 2 kilobytes.  They do that just fine.

As far as I know, the SSL and TCP/IP implementations sold by Verifone (licensed from Windriver?) are seriously crippled by implementing only minimal subsets of the full functionality, suitable to run only on LANs or WLANs with low packet loss.

That might be true, but they tend to work fine in practice.  Most of the messages exchanged by these devices fit within a single Ethernet frame.  They are designed to talk to one host (e.g. Visa/Mastercard) over the internet and they clearly do that just fine.  They don't need a gamut of protocols because they don't need to talk to lots of hosts with a wide array of different capabilities like, say, web browsers do.

I believe the WiFi units they sell (Vx610 with a pluggable module) is based on having a third-party radio with its own IP stack on the radio itself, and it is just attached via a serial-like connection.

In short, they do fine.

I think they also have Linux-based products as well.  I've never developed for them.

You might be aware my experience with these is that I sell payroll timeclock services on them.  We actually have another box with similar characteristics that runs Linux (magstripe reader, 128x64 mono display), and we sell a ton of them as timeclocks.  My timeclock app runs on both VeriFone and these Linux boxes, it's just a different build target.  So if I had an itch for a little more juice, it's just a matter of recompiling for the other hardware.  We sell more Linux timeclocks not because they're Linux, but because they look more like timeclocks and are easier to hang on the wall.  On the other hand, VeriFone boxes would make better Bitcoin POS machines because they have a built-in printer, that's sort of important.

I'm interested in making the Linux timeclock box available to others, because anyone can develop for them.  And if someone can contribute to the Bitcoin codebase that runs on the Linux timeclock, it should have no problem compiling for the bankcard machines as well.

If the whole project get from the start rearchitectured to dumb-wimpy-client/smart-ruddy-server that would increase the chances of achieving something that is both deliverable and maintainable in case of the future need for modifications.

I'm hoping to just give away the code for any progress I make on this.  I believe this is what it'll take for average businesses to care about Bitcoin.

Admittently I don't have an actual experience with Verifone's hardware, but we had to deal with something very similar. In the end the acceptable and secure solution required about 5-15 seconds wait to respond to the keypresses. And  this was after immense time spent optimizing the C code with hand-crafted assembly.

I don't like unresponsive UIs and wouldn't use this platform if that were the expected experience.  My timeclock app is very responsive and I would expect that any sort of bitcoin app would be the same.



Companies claiming they got hacked and lost your coins sounds like fraud so perfect it could be called fashionable.  I never believe them.  If I ever experience the misfortune of a real intrusion, I declare I have been honest about the way I have managed the keys in Casascius Coins.  I maintain no ability to recover or reproduce the keys, not even under limitless duress or total intrusion.  Remember that trusting strangers with your coins without any recourse is, as a matter of principle, not a best practice.  Don't keep coins online. Use paper wallets instead.
worldinacoin
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October 02, 2011, 01:11:15 AM
 #35

If you are launching, I am extremely willing to be a volunteer and help in the distributions in the countries I go to.
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October 03, 2011, 10:37:22 AM
 #36

Questions on the POS protocol outlined on your wiki page.

I imagine there would be some sort of login or authorization step so that the backend knows that it is communicating with an authorized client?

I see the client connects every 15-60 seconds, would a standard web server with HTTPS/SSL be able to communicate with the client? or is the protocol complex enough to require a custom server software to be written?
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October 03, 2011, 11:41:33 AM
 #37

Wouldn't it just need to do json-rpc calls to bitcoind running somewhere on a LAN (or alternately I suppose that could be an external trusted service)?

This sounds interesting and I'm just touching in here to stay aware of progress.

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October 03, 2011, 01:11:44 PM
 #38

Wow, this is coming along.  Thank you casascius. This is a wonderful contribution.

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October 20, 2011, 02:22:16 AM
 #39

Holy shit, how does this not have more attention.  Just seen this on /r/Bitcoin, amazing.

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October 20, 2011, 03:13:52 AM
 #40

All they do is register as a money service, pay their dues and then merchants can just add their system to the options on existing POS terminals.


"pay their dues"
Visa and Master Charge fees, money conversion fees, bank fees, money service fees, etc. Merchants are constantly losing profitability and can barely afford to take credit cards anymore. This device is not supposed to be a new idea, it's just a familiar device for a bitcoin based banking system that has very low fees.

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