Curbstone Native OS/400 Credit Card Software Makes Debut
October 19, 2004 Alex Woodie
About 12 years ago, Ira Chandler wrote the industry’s first credit card transaction processing software that ran natively on OS/400. The software, which was eventually marketed and sold by ROI, was a hit, but then Chandler watched as ROI eschewed the native approach and pushed a cross-platform credit card processing application instead. Two years ago, Chandler left ROI and launched his own startup, called Curbstone, but now he’s “back in the business,” writing native OS/400 credit card software again.
When ROI acquired GO Software, in 2000, Chandler was not happy to see ROI’s credit card software, the Java Card, de-emphasized in favor of GO’s cross-platform RiTA Server software. As a Java program, RiTA ran on the iSeries server, but at heart it was a Windows application, Chandler says, and therefore it didn’t make the best use of OS/400’s capabilities. He argued his point of view, but it didn’t have the effect he would have liked.
In 2002, Chandler left ROI and thought (mistakenly) that he was leaving the credit card software business for good. At Curbstone, he concentrated on selling FreeStyle-400, an OS/400 Web application development tool that he brought over from ROI through a licensing agreement. When customers would ask him where they could get credit card processing software, he pointed them to ROI, a company he still owns shares in.
But some customers didn’t want to run the RiTA software that GO was pushing. Several customers pushed Chandler to develop low-cost credit card software that ran natively on the OS/400. Chandler resisted, until CMS, a developer of OS/400 and Windows ERP software, finally convinced him to do it. “I said, ‘Damn it, I’ll do it,’ ” Chandler says. “By the end of last year, we had it written.”
(ROI recently announced its intention to sell the GO Software subsidiary, to further its goal in concentrating on software for the construction business.)
THE CURBSTONE CARD
Georgia-based Curbstone last week officially announced the general availability its native OS/400 credit card processing software, Curbstone Card Version 2.0. The first version of the software was quietly released in 2003, and several customers are successfully using it in production. With Curbstone Card 2.0, all the certifications and security provisions are in place, and the software is ready for a wider roll out, Chandler says.
To get the most out of the OS/400 server, Chandler and his developers wrote Curbstone Card from scratch, in ILE RPG, with some C and some Java for communications. “We have yielded to the exciting temptation of Java, regrettably,” he says.
There are several advantages to keeping the guts of the software in RPG, Chandler says. For example, Java-based credit card processing products on the market don’t support message files or message queues, which prevents operators from receiving alerts through native OS/400 processes, he says. It’s also easier for most OS/400 users familiar with Query/400 and similar tools to build reports from data stored in an RPG program, compared with Java programs on the market, which store transaction data in multiple tables and require knowledge of SQL, which is okay, Chandler says, but just isn’t the way most people familiar with the AS/400 want to interact with the data.
“We avoided going cross-platform, because that is a flawed approach to performance, compatibility, and manageability on the AS/400,” Chandler says. “Software originating in Windows or Linux can’t use the true strengths of the AS/400. The AS/400 market deserves a truly native, advanced credit card product.”
Curbstone Card is certified to run transactions on three major authorization networks, including Nova Network, Paymentech, and Vital, and their affiliates. Those three authorization networks handle most of the country’s credit card transaction, whether it’s counted by volume or dollar value, he says.
While it is not certified for Visa’s Cardholder Information Security Program, companies that use the Curbstone Card can get certified for the program, Chandler says. This makes Curbstone Card unique in the business, he says. Visa is starting to enforce the security provisions within its CISP program, starting with large users that process more than one million transactions per year, with fines ranging up to $100,000 per incident, and even expulsion from the Visa network.
With Curbstone Card, any AS/400 or iSeries shop with OS/400 V4R5 or later versions can process their customers’ credit card transactions. Users can process payments from most major credit and debit cards, in practically any imaginable purchase scenario, including card present, card not present, e-commerce, mail order, and many others. The software can even connect to retail or e-commerce applications running on other platforms, thanks to its support for sockets.
Chandler says the design spec for Curbstone Card was to be able to process 10,000 transactions per minute. That would require a pretty big honking iSeries server, but the software can do it, he says, especially with its multithreaded design. Support for up to 99,000 merchant accounts within the Curbstone Card also makes it a candidate for an application-service-provider-style business for processing other companies’ credit card transactions.
New releases of the Curbstone Card will be introduced on a regular basis, Chandler says–not quite once a month, but pretty close. One of the things that Chandler will strive to do with this product is to enable a user on any release of the software to always be able to upgrade to the latest release, without going through an incremental upgrade.
Pricing for Curbstone Card starts at $5,995, which allows the user to process up to 9,000 transactions per quarter. For $9,995, the user gains the right to process up to 27,000 transactions per quarter. An unlimited license for the Curbstone Card costs $17,995. Three months of free support is included with the purchase of the software. After that, a 12-month subscription to technical support, which includes 24-hour access to a toll-free hotline, costs $1,500.
For more information, go to www.curbstone.com.