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Gift Cards in Retail Industry and Testing Challenges-III

Today I will talk about the actual gift card transaction through POS device.

More and more retailers–and e-retailers–will be featuring Gift cards online–daily, hourly, at lunch time, after dinner, and at other times–to keep the cash registers churning and most of these transactions are through POS devices.

POS is one of the most important medium to acquire Gift card transactions.

  • The major vendors for these POS devices are VeriFone, Lipmann, Ingenico…
  • For more details check


In order to start selling or acquiring Gift card transaction make sure to check that your POS device is equipped with-

  • Application to support Gift card transactions.
  • Check if Ethernet POS device has Comm Server application to support the Ethernet transactions.
  • Check if Analog POS device is connected to telephone line for Analog transactions.

Some group of terminals only supports Analog (Verifone 3730) where as some supports both Analog and Ethernet (Verifone 3750/Vx570).

Now that we know our terminal can support Gift card transactions let see how the actual transactions goes through. Assuming POS device is authorized to sell the Gift Card,

  • User swipes the card.
  • POS is capable to read Track1 and Track2 data. Gift card information in stored in track1 and track2.
  • POS application reads card No, UPC, amount and expiration date from these tracks. A simple card reader can help to extract this information for verification purpose.
  • Acquiring application composes an activation request with extracted information and 8583 protocol format.
  • A typical request field will consist of Card No, UPC, Merchant ID, Terminal ID, Amount, Expiration date, Service provider id, etc…
  • The request is sent out to the correct service provider. This routing setting is usually in application configuration files.
  • The whole process of transaction authorization and response including the receipt printing should be completed within 20-25 sec in typical scenario.
  • Validation can be done for the response to make sure that the correct card is activated with correct amount.
  • Contents of the printed receipt can be verified.
  • Cross check the data base entries for the approved transaction.

This is the usual flow for a successful gift card transaction over the POS.

Let’s briefly go through some of the other acquiring channels.


A Web page is built to process Gift card transactions. A simple card reader attached to your laptop/desktop can acquire a transaction and further sent it for processing. Internally it will follow the same step as mentioned above for POS transactions.


An API is exposed to end user who in terms can have their own wrapper to send these transactions. Rest all process is same as mentioned above once the transaction reaches the acquiring application.

Overall in last couple of blogs we saw how the Gift cards industry works and how these transactions are carried out.

So, before you just cross your fingers and pray that retailers will carry and support the gift that you are planning to buy, think about taking control and making Gift cards work to your advantage.

Let me stop here and give you guys some time for shopping gift cards, Happy holidays!

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