What are BP Tools?

BP Tools is a set of freeware applications. They are used for Electronic Funds Transfer payment transaction service development, allowing money to be moved from one financial institution account to another. Millions of EFT transfers are made every day around the world.

Before you think that BP Tools are only something you would use to pay at certain gas stations, you might be surprised to find out how often you benefit from them. In some instances, you are happy they exist:

• Direct Deposit (payroll)
• International Wire Transfers

Other times, you don’t like spending while using them, even as you enjoy the convenience:

• Online bill paying
• Direct payments for online product/service purchases
• Paying dues or service fees

The functionality is the same whether money is transferred within the same institution or to another one. An example of a transfer within the same institution is when you move funds from your savings account to your checking account. When more than one entity is involved, there needs to be a secure and successful method of transferring the funds.

An ATM is a prime example of the need for BP Tools. When you use an ATM at a bank branch, or in a separate location owned by your bank, the EFT needs to reflect your withdrawal. When you use an ATM through a different bank or at an independent location (stadium, race track, casino, etc.) the system needs to accommodate the originating source of the withdrawal. And, of course, it will make sure to add the surcharge for usage where appropriate.

Of course, the majority of financial transactions involve more than one financial institution. It is interesting to know how amazing it is that all we do is swipe a credit card one time to purchase multiple items and (hopefully!) get immediate approval.

As you would expect, there are several important technical considerations for BP Tools:

BP Card Edit

This is a file viewer for Thales P3 which allows users to analyze the content of both input and output files. It works by reading the magnetic stripe of charge/debit cards, smart cards, etc., while also serving as a security device. Its most important function is to interpret the contents of the files for related analytics operations.

Analytics is the “How do they know?” statistics which are derived from the usage and are extremely important to businesses and financial institutions. They come from definitive tracking of all requested information specific to each transaction.

For example, you and ten other people withdrew $200 each from your bank’s ATM at Western Ave. the branch on June 10th. In addition to the bank recording each individual transaction, the bank knows that on June 10th, $2,200 was withdrawn from that one branch. The bank can compare information about its ATM use at this branch each day and eventually come up with important and proprietary trends. They can compare these statistics against information from ATM’s at other branches and locations, including specific days.

An even better example of analytics comes from retail. The magnetic stripe does more than provide the terminal with your credit card information and verify the charge. The retailer (whether online or physical location) tracks your purchase. This is how they “know” how many of a specific item they sold today or this month, and what their total revenue is for each day. Now, when you hear that “sales of widgets rose by 8% in January”, you know how the analytics are what provided them with that information.

Card edit tools also include data consistency checks and methods of validation. On the business or bank side, this is significant in a good way. As a consumer, it is the cause of a decline in a transaction. This is “how they know” that your card is over the limit, expired, or no longer valid for whatever reason.

The card edit tools also come with extended USB reader support, which is used for physical card data import.

EMV Tool

EMV tools include an APDU Response Query, EMV Tag Dictionary, and a TLV Parser, each with its own contributing functions.

APDU (application protocol data unit) response queries to address the communication between the smart card and the card reader. The process is considered to consist of two categories, first sent by the reader to the card with a mandatory 4-byte header. The response is then sent from the card back to the reader within the maximum limitations and with two mandatory status bytes (These are known as SW1 and SW2.).

EMV Tags are what contain the specified data which determine whether or not an individual smart card transaction gets approved or declined. This is also why a merchant is not able to tell you why a transaction declines. These tags are not required, nor are they programmed, to provide any details other than the result of the query.

One interesting fact about EMV Tags is what EMV stands for. Those are the initials of the three major companies which founded this process in 1994. They are Europay, MasterCard, and Visa. This technology is utilized worldwide for credit cards, debit cards, and pre-paid smart cards. Every transaction is assigned a unique transaction code, which can serve a number of purposes. Each transaction code provides digits or sequences specific to the issuing bank, seller or provider of products/services, cardholder, and other parties that are affiliated in some way with the transaction.

When a transaction is disputed, credited, or reversed, the transaction code enables all parties involved to be notified and/or credited according to the programmed regulations.

TLV Parsers are for encoding the data from smart cards. TLV stands for Tag Length Value. An easier way to explain this is that it is the creation of a code to reflect the various aspects of each transaction. For example, a code starting with “6C” might reflect the number of the card used in the transaction. It would show (example) as “6C123456789A”, with the “A” reflecting one of two cards issued on the same account (such as husband and wife). The next code in the series could show the amount of the transaction, while a separate code is for the merchant, and so on.

Each code often contains multiple complexities. These include:

• Retail or physical location (such as a department store with 250 locations around the country)
• Item or inventory number for products
• Type of or category of service provided
• Number of items and item codes within the transaction
• Card number use in the transaction
• Authorization method (such as signature, automatic scheduled charge, etc.)

As you might expect, the potentially lengthy sequence of each code often varies for a number of reasons. The most important reason is for the reduction of fraudulent transactions or tampering. Sometimes a merchant or card issuer may have additional codes to protect against fixed amounts (such as for pre-paid cards), inventory control, or clearance items.

HSM Commander

HSM (Hardware Security Module) is the tool that provides technical support and services including the command base and security logs. When you see a computer operating in a secure location in an office or business, chances are this is its primary function. People are often surprised to learn that BP Tools can operate on a Windows or Apple computer, and offer the flexibility they do throughout the entire process.

These four elements are all part of the BP Tools function. They exist to develop, understand, and test various cryptographic operations. Once underway, they can then diagnose and fix any issues with card production. Perhaps the best news is that these things can be done while you form commands and test an HSM.

Crypto Calculator

If you understand Bitcoin (BTC) and/or Ethereum (ETH), you already understand the importance of calculating cryptocurrency. Businesses that handle buying and selling of BTC and ETH typically offer conversion calculators for current and potential customers around the world. Whether you believe in Bitcoin or Ethereum or not, a crypto calculator helps to understand the exact proposed value. These have each been successfully integrated into BP Tools. Bitcoin came into existence in 2009, while Ethereum was even more recent, debuting in 2015.

Several websites, especially those which work with Bitcoin or Ethereum, provide free calculators. For those interested in BP Tools, the use of these calculators shows some insight as to how this feature can fit into a variety of uses.