Why Revel Systems Picked Apple iOS for their Point of Sale

Revel Systems has seen unique success among emerging tablet Point of Sale providers, as the only platform capable of handling enterprise clients. Revel CTO Chris Ciabarra credits the ability to attract and maintain clients such as Goodwill, Belkin, Popeyes, Illy, Forever Yogurt, Rita’s, and Pizza Patron to the founding principles of the company. Co-Founders Ciabarra and Falzone sought to create a point of sale that would not only facilitate transactions, but be an asset to merchants. Falzone’s business experience and Ciabarra’s background in security merged to create a product that took advantage of technological advancements, while exceeding the performance of legacy providers.

Falzone, a businesswoman to the core, sought to create a system that would help a small food truck or convenience store grow to a multinational chain. From the first client, Lappert’s Fish and Chips, Revel began fulfilling this goal. Owner Michael Lappert credits Revel with a 14% increase in transaction speed that was critical in opening additional locations, while the enterprise management console gives him the power to manage multiple locations.

While Falzone developed a business-oriented solution, Ciabarra, a data security expert, implemented rigorous security standards for the project. No matter how secure the app he created was, Ciabarra was concerned about the risk of installing the app on a substandard operating system. The first decision to make in building the POS was whether to build an operating system from scratch, or use one that was already on the market.

Ciabarra’s time as a POS security consultant at Network Intercept left him unwilling to work with any legacy operating systems--they were hacked too regularly. While he was developing version one of the Revel system, a handful of other tablet POS players had just entered the market, and four more were weeks away from joining the game. The time-crunch nearly proved fatal for the burgeoning startup, as Ciabarra was unwilling to cut corners for faster market-entry.  He was on the verge of building a new OS, or dramatically modifying an existing system, when his research led him to the newly released iPad 1, and its uniquely secure operating system.

Before iOS was developed there was no catch-all solution to POS operating system security.  Existing systems were not robust enough to securely manage large volumes of sensitive transactions, and Point of Sale companies lacked the dedicated resources to build a highly functional operating system from the ground up, in the way a tablet or computer company could.  Apple’s iOS platform was a true game-changer, as the first secure, tablet based operating system available for general consumption. This platform was a better solution for POS software than even the custom-built options of the past.

Retailers and restaurants on legacy point of sale systems continue to be hacked, as do small merchants using entry-level systems.  This increasingly publicised problem is a result of Microsoft- and Android-based platforms that lack the security features which ought to be prerequisites for any system that has access to massive amounts consumer data.

“In my view” Ciabarra states, “Apple has created the safest out-of-the-box operating system on the market today.” iOS offers 4 unique characteristics that make it the ideal platform for a Point of Sale solution. Here’s why:

  1. iOS places each application (including associated preferences and data), in a discreet “sandbox” upon installation. A sandbox is a set of particular controls that limit the app’s access to files, preferences, network resources, and other potential vulnerabilities. The strict partitions between apps protect a hack of any one app from infecting the rest of the devices. For example: even if a malicious email is opened, the mail app is siloed from the POS, protecting it from infection.

  2. Apple requires strict code signing, increasing the quality and security standard of any application on the device.

  3. Entitlements in apps provide built-in protection against viruses, malware, and other hacks. Users do not have to research, purchase, and install supplemental antiviral software, as it is a default feature of all iPad applications.

  4. Only one application is able to run at a time. This makes iOS a unique system that protects against malware that tries to break in by taking advantage of a less secure app.  Even if such a hack were successful, the POS application would be untouchable.

Since choosing iOS, Revel Systems has not had to worry about hackers targeting the POS app with malware.  Apple secures everything on iOS so that the Point of Sale is rigorously guarded by the inherent protections of an iOS device.  Thank you Apple for saving the POS industry from hackers and malware. REVELUP!