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FAQ

Q:  What is Blackbird™?

 

Blackbird™ is a financial transaction processing controller. It was originally designed for 24-7-365 multi-lane retail (e.g., supermarkets, department stores, etc.) operation. Blackbird™ provides a centralized/single communication point for EFT-related messages within a store environment.  The individual point-of-sale check-out lanes transmit their messages to Blackbird™, which in turn transmits the messages to the specified financial host.

 

Q: What else can Blackbird™ do?

 

Blackbird™’s Advantage Service Desk provides features that allow your business to become a multi-function transaction business hub. Blackbird™ is versatile and flexible; it supports ancillary compatible software and electronic transactions, such as

  • Check cashing

  • Personal & payroll check cashing

  • Utility billpay

  • Telephone and cable billpay

  • Pre-transaction customer lookup

  • Debit purchase

  • Credit purchase

  • Gift card purchase

  • Frequent shopper purchase

  • EBT voucher purchase

  • Bank savings withdrawal

  • Bank checking withdrawal

 

In addition, Blackbird™ Advantage Service Desk is simple to use. Its web-based interface conceals a feature-rich, open architecture software application that permits you to customize Advantage Service Desk's features to your store’s specific needs, easily and efficiently.

 

Examples of the varied products and services that can be EASILY attached to Advantage Service Desk, making your service desk more efficient, reduce costs and an income generator are:

  • Policies and procedures manual

  • Online help

  • Phone card and prepaid gift card purchases

  • Postage stamps

  • Proof of age

  • Call in procedure for processing needs

  • Explanation of decline codes

  • Miscellaneous sales (e.g., promotional items, entertainment books, and theme park tickets)

 

Q: What can Blackbird™ do if your payment gateway connection goes down?

 

Blackbird™ is capable of “store-and-forward” transaction processing. If communication with the specified host is unavailable, Blackbird™ can process the electronic transaction data offline. Merchant financial transactions (e.g., credit, debit, etc.) are either approved or denied based upon a merchant-configurable floor limit. In addition, Blackbird™ can store non-financial data (e.g., signature capture, etc.) for subsequent forwarding upon communication restoration.

 

Q: How secure is Blackbird™?

 

Blackbird™ is built on Linux OS to maximize system security. Utilizing Linux OS security/administrative features, Blackbird™

  • Prevents store personnel from accessing system w/o valid User Name and Password

  • Makes non-administrative access available only via web-based user interface

  • Permits admin access to various levels of OS

  • Gives Admin ability to set and control multiple access/level permissions

  • Allows for Admin remote maintenance and updating

  • Provides User configurable audit trailing

  • Creates Audit logs stored in flat ASCII files

  • Uses web browser for user interface

  • Provides reports available on a per-day basis

  • Makes audit trail reports available; including approved/denied transactions and transactions currently in store-and-forward file

 

Q: What type of messages does Blackbird™ process?

 

ISO8583. Blackbird™ internally operates with ISO8583 messages, thus all messages are defined by Message Type and Processing Code. Even though there are many ‘flavors’ of ISO8583, Blackbird™ has a configuration file that lists the currently-specified ISO8583 version. Blackbird™ accommodates virtually any version of ISO8583 - either a specific standard or one with homegrown modifications.

 

Data Types. Blackbird™ can handle field types of Alpha (includes special and numeric), Numeric, Binary and the special financial field “x”.  LLVAR and LLLVAR and Date Time formats can also be specified.  Numeric information may also be in BCD format, and Bitmap fields may be either ASCII representation or true Binary Bitmaps.

 

User Configuration Flexibility. All message configuration for Blackbird™ must be listed via one of several configuration screens to properly inform Blackbird™ of how to handle the various message types. Configurable messages fall into one of the following categories: (i) administrative; (ii) financial; and (iii) non-financial. In addition, Blackbird™ can generate reversals if properly configured. For example, Blackbird™ can be configured to generate reversal message (i) when a financial message fails to be received within a predetermined amount of time; (ii) when a financial message is approved offline; or (iii) when a financial message is received late.


Automatic Field Conformity. Blackbird™ is capable of auto-conformation of a received message in order to assure specific fields are forced to be present (e.g., Merchant Id), or optionally filled if not present (e.g., DateTime).

 

Q: How fast is Blackbird™

 

Blackbird™’s transaction-per-second throughput is limited only by CPU speed. For example, even with a CPU of commercially minimum speed, throughput @1.5Ghz is rated at 20 transactions-per-second continually sustained for hours. A testimony to Blackbird™’s robustness, one key client has used Blackbird™ in over 140 stores and OVER 2,500 lanes since 2003 WITHOUT EVER GOING DOWN.

 

Q: Does Blackbird™ provide an audit trail?

Blackbird™ can store financial messages in Audit Trail Files. A message is stored only after authorization (approval or denial). A user-accessible configuration screen informs Blackbird™ which ISO BitFields (or parts of BitFields) to store. (NOTE: Fields listed as Visa CISP sensitive fields are either blank or contain truncated information.)


Debug / Error logs are stored in a subdirectory and are separated by date in the filename. Each process will create its own Log file. By default, these files contain only certain status and error information intended to identify problems should they arise. More detailed information can be dumped based upon a command line argument.

 
 

Q: What is Blackbird™’s user interface

 

Blackbird™’s user Interface is written using HTML and various scripts, and requires a web server (i.e., Apache, etc.) running whenever the User Interface is used.

 

Admins can modify special Blackbird™ "rules files" via the User Interface (UI). Assuming that the web server is configured in a particular manner, it can serve web pages to either the local machine solely or to a select group of IP addresses. Also utilizing the web server’s login capability, a LogOn can be required to access the web pages. In effect, UI access can be (i) Off; (ii) Very Restricted; (iii) Somewhat Restricted; or (iv) Very Open.