Comments on: Use Handheld to Take Credit Cards with PDA Swipe

Semtek Innovative Solutions has developed the PDA Swipe, a three-track magnetic stripe card reader for for the Palm III and VII series. It has uses ranging from wireless credit card processing to driver's licence verification. It costs $195.
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Swipe This...

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/23/2001 7:27:02 AM #
My State, Connecticut, uses barcodes on its drivers licenses, so this would be useless to our law enforcement.

How many of you you out there really want bar and nightclub staff scanning your license and logging your time of arrival, and keeping your license number, name and address, date of birth, eye color, etc.?

Is it too difficult to read the date off of a license, and calculate the perons age in ones head? These people aren't exactly fast food employees.

We have to wait in line at retail stores anyway to have our purchases rung up, and stores like Wal-mart verify credit cards almost instantly, so having a Palm do it, assuming it can pick up a radio signal inside of a store, is senseless.

This product seems like a solution looking for a problem.

RE: Swipe This...
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/23/2001 7:55:43 AM #
>My State, Connecticut, uses barcodes on its drivers
>licenses, so this would be useless to our law

Well bully for you. Maybe you've noticed that not only are there a whole bunch of other states in your country, but that there are other countries out there too.

>We have to wait in line at retail stores anyway
>to have our purchases rung up, and stores like
>Wal-mart verify credit cards almost instantly,
>so having a Palm do it, assuming it can pick up
>a radio signal inside of a store, is senseless.

Of course you can pick up a phone signal inside a store... Not that Wall-mart would use this solution... they'd use a Wireless local area network of some sort (eg 802.11b).

Then again, as you point out - it's probably a pretty bad idea to use a Wireless Palm in Wal-mart.

However, certain POS applications would really benefit from this sort of system. Train tickets bought in-transit already use wireless credit card authentication.

What about outdoor applications? How about being able to use your credit card at a ball game to pay for snacks / drinks that are delivered. The vendor could take your order, wirelessly send it back to base to be prepared, then you can pay on your credit card for what you've ordered.

What about for ambulance drivers? Swipe your driver's license and get back info about any alergies, or known problems like diabeties?

Or maybe a deliery service of some sort? Not only could you do cash on delivery, you could do credit card on delivery.

I see quite a few problems where this solution would be suited.

(end rant)


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Diga ao Falante pelos Mortos
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RE: Swipe This...
cscullion @ 8/23/2001 7:56:12 AM #
Picture these:

- in a grocery store, a customer with a "Frequent Shopper" card wonders whether they have enough points to redeem for the free turkey... the store employee with a Palm and this device simply swipes the card, and the customer's points total is displayed on the screen.

- a local clothing store is having a sidewalk sale, so they want to set up a checkout stand outside near the merchandise... with this device, a Palm, and a small receipt printer, transactions can be processed without the added expense of moving a cash register out there.

- on a receiving dock, the truck driver hands his vendor ID card to the attendant as the products are loaded/unloaded... his company is instantly credited for the material delivered or picked up.

There are a gazillion uses for this device.

Chris Scullion

RE: Swipe This...
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/23/2001 8:36:39 AM #
When I worked at a 7-11 a few years ago, we had a card reader to take the guess work out of whether or not someone was old enough to buy alcohol (Everyone makes mistakes, but making a mistake like that can cost the clerk their drivers licence for a year!). So all it did was check the date and give a yes or no to whether or not they were old enough to buy alcohol. It would also let you know if the card was a fake. How, I don't know, but it would let you know.

RE: Swipe This...
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/23/2001 8:39:08 AM #
You've got that right. I see this geared more for sales people on the run. And I think it should stay at that!

RE: Swipe This...
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/23/2001 8:57:14 AM #

Just because you see no immediate need in your small frame of reference does not auto matically mean the device is of no use. You have been given several good examples of the potential this device has, and there are a million more. Open up your mind!!

RE: Swipe This...
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/23/2001 9:16:37 AM #
...Having a sidewalk sale would eliminate the need for a cash register...

There still is this thing called "cash" that a lot of people like to pay with. You would still need a cash register.

Frequent shopper points? Can do that now at the courtesy desk or register

RE: Swipe This...
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/23/2001 9:23:19 AM #
This sounds like a good idea.......for the crime mind.....could you image, having your credit card number swiped by a dishonest person an using that information for no good......sure it will make shopping and conducting business easier but one has to think....there is always a "smarter crook" out there. Also consider sending that information via a "wireless" device. Just today on USATODAY there is an article about wireless device NOT BEING SAFE. A 15 year old with a laptop and the right hardware could intercept the "wireless" signal, so there is my point.....ARE WE READY FOR BIG BROTHER..........

BAN THE SHOVEL! (was Swipe This...)
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/23/2001 9:54:37 AM #
Like the original poster, I immediately thought, "great tool for crooks" when I read about it... but honestly, if someone is going to steal your credit card numbers, they'll do it with or without a Palm.

My cards never leave my sight, except in a restaraunt, and guess what? The only time I've ever been ripped off was in a restaurant... 10 yrs ago. It takes seconds to make a "rubbing" of your card on a carbon.

This device is a technology tool, plain and simple. Some people use shovels to dig holes, a few use them to bash people over their heads.

RE: Swipe This...
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/23/2001 11:14:29 AM #
Yeah, I just saw a TV show about how some nare-do-wells have come up with a similar device that doesn't use Palm. It's very small, and has enough memory to record the vitals from a couple hundred cards. Thieves pay people like waiters at restaurants to scan the cards into the device at the same time they have taken the card to pay for the meal. The waiter gets a couple of bucks for each number swiped, and the thieves use the numbers to go out and make some new cards or just use the number over the net. No Palm is needed. So watch your cards, kiddies.

RE: Swipe This...
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/23/2001 11:41:57 AM #
So in a way, this could help your credit card security. Now they could scan your card at the restaurant table, in front of you, the number would be encoded so the waiter/waitress would never see it long enough to memorize it or steal it.

Another neat application of this if you mount it at the table or some other location, you could use the Palm to order and pay without assistance. This would be a much cheaper, "walk" up and pay type terminal than anything else I currently know of being available.

RE: Swipe This...
rueyeet @ 8/23/2001 1:50:54 PM #
Actually I can see some of the original poster's points. All it amounts to, though, is that the PDA Swipe may or may not be useful in different circumstances.

I have no objection to law enforcement using the PDA Swipe to check my license in any state where that would work...the only illegal thing I'm likely to be doing is speeding. I'm not worried about the government...I'm not interesting enough. :)

I wouldn't want a bar/nightclub/liquor sales person collecting any of my personal data from my license,'s not so much the bouncer or clerk or whoever having access to my info but the people they might sell it to if they were unscrupulous. For a criminal, you're always interesting if you provide an opportunity. But I wouldn't care if they just used it to check my age; of course, the problem there is how you'd know whether they were collecting other data.

For the grocery store and Wal-Mart examples, I actually would say that the Swipe is not an asset. If you're going to spare essential personnel in a crunch to go up to each person in line with a portable credit terminal, you might as well have opened another register. Same with the grocery store thing...why wander the aisles looking for the portable scanning person when you know you can always find someone at the customer service desk? A central location is more efficient in that case, or heck, wire up card scanners at the ends of each aisle and use the staff for something else.

For sales people on the go, like waiters or hookers or pizza delivery boys or what have you, it may or may not make real sense. To make a portable credit terminal useful it should have a receipt printer, and by the time you add that to the PDA, whatever it's using for wireless access, and the Swipe, it's not so portable a package. You'd have to think about whether the convenience of the mobile access was worth the inconvenience of hauling all this stuff. For restaurants in particular, it'd make more sense to wire up each table with a terminal like they've got at gas station pumps so you can pay without waiting for the waiter to *finally* take and *finally* bring back your card.

The only place I can see this thing making sense is where you have a relatively stable temporary location, like a table at a tech expo or county fair or liquidation sale or whatever type of event. And that's only if the event doesn't already offer credit hookups, which most do.

The upshot is basically that in many of the situations where this would be useful, it's still not small enough, and in the others, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. It's a neat gadget, but not truly convenient enough yet to really replace the way things are currently done.

RE: Swipe This...
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/24/2001 8:58:04 AM #
All this fear about using this device for credit card theft is a riot. Sure, it could be used for that but you don't need that much technology to get credit card numbers. Keep track of when you pay with a credit card at a restaurant. Many of the restaurant POS systems print up your receipt with your full credit card number printed right there. So when you sign it and leave the top copy on the table, you have just left your credit card number for anyone to steal. No need for high tech devices, no need to get an imprint.

RE: Swipe This...
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/31/2002 10:36:43 PM #
I'm going to be the guy at the club scanning your ID. HA HA HA!

everyones in the game now

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/23/2001 11:08:31 AM #
picture this.....the escort industry and the streetside prostitute are now high tech

RE: everyones in the game now
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/23/2001 11:48:44 AM #
Well, it's not like there aren't already small, fairly portable, electronic credit card machines available. So, I'm sure if you look around, you could probably find a prostitute or escort service that already can take credit cards. Of course if someone is not so reputable, you may not want to give them your credit card in the first place.

The advantage of this device over most current options is that you can write custom software on the Palm to support your application. The Palm can then provide you a nice GUI for it. Add in a HandEra 330 or TRGpro and you can network it as well.

number theft scam

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/23/2001 11:56:16 AM #
Wasn't there a news story last year about some kid who hacked one of these up and used it to record the credit card information of customers at the store where he worked? IIRC, he had about five thousand numbers before he got busted.

RE: number theft scam
RoofusPennymore @ 8/23/2001 1:32:27 PM #
This is all to common. The waiter at the resturant your at could be doing the same thing. The only defense it to carfully watch the transactions on your card or not use one at all.

RE: number theft scam
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/23/2001 6:09:32 PM #
Yeah this is old, a long time ago (several years ago) some guy or maybe girl working as a waitress stole credit card numbers by just that. she/he had a palm pilot with a magnetic strip reader and when he/she took the credit card, he/she would swipe it in his/her pants and steal all the info.

Similar to what these guys do ...

Token @ 8/23/2001 4:10:59 PM #

A magnetic strip may not be appropriate, but the SMARTClip SMARTChip reader is pretty cool (used it at Comdex 2000). The site is slow as treacle (why oh why do marketing types insist on using Flash?), but the technologies presented are good and solid (Palm V/Vx Bluetooth Clip anyone??).

Token User.

Where can you buy it.....

I.M. Anonymous @ 12/8/2001 2:00:40 PM #
Where on the internet can you buy the PDA Swipe
from Semtek. I know you can probably get it from
Semtek but does any site sell them to order online.

RE: Where can you buy it.....
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/25/2002 1:43:11 PM #
You can buy the Palm VIIx along with the Swipe Reader and Integrated with a Merchant account at:



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