The Challenge

Create richer interactions between merchants and customers.

The Outcome

Retail business platform Pi and portable payment service Albert.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia was interested in helping customers and businesses build close connections. They believed the way to do this would be by creating richer interactions around different forms of payment. The bank approached IDEO to explore these opportunities, and the result is a new retail business platform—Pi—and a portable payment device—Albert.

Pi brings a new level of flexibility, functionality, and customization to the face-to-face interaction between a cashier and a customer, improving everything from the process of splitting the bill in a restaurant to helping a guest find more personalized experiences at a hotel.

IDEO designers sketched different models before building prototypes.

Product design sketches of portable payment device


In the team’s research in Australia, the UK, and Germany, they found a few key insights that informed the design. First, they saw that an ideal platform should support the full spectrum of human behaviors around payment. Second, platforms can add value by improving the relationships among banks, merchants, and customers. And third, the payment experience should be customized to fit a specific setting, working one way in a luxury boutique and another in a gas station.

IDEO, CBA, and Wincor Nixdorf worked together closely to steward the design of Pi And Albert through product development and implementation, and to gather feedback from merchants during rapid, iterative cycles.

IDEO researchers tested the interactive user interface with a prototype.

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The platform is flexible enough to benefit organizations of all sizes: Larger merchants can incorporate Pi as part of their existing network, while smaller merchants can grow their business using powerful business tools. And customers of all kinds can easily access a variety of payment methods and helpful applications.

Albert offers a large touchscreen that’s intuitive to use, the safety of virtually encrypted PIN entry, and a variety of ways to access data connections. A large battery provides power when retailers are on the go, and a modular housing means that Albert can be used in all kinds of situations. The device is built to handle current card payment methods but can also adapt to how cards might be accepted in the future, and even eliminates the need to swivel a screen from cashier to customer during the payment process.