Android and Linux: comparing payment terminal operating systems

Around the world, new technology is changing how payments happen. Contactless NFC technology for bank cards and digital wallets is now the norm, and cashless (i.e. non-cash) payments as a whole are poised to overtake cash in Europe, driven in part by the impact of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, back-end advances (such as pre-authorisation technologies in the EV-charging industry, or electronic receipts) are driving further innovation. And there are many more developments within hardware and software fields that are giving businesses extra flexibility and helping them build closer relationships with customers.

At CCV, we’re at the forefront of this, having developed game-changing smart payment terminals, powered by the Android operating system (OS). And this terminal doesn’t just handle payments. Think complete cash register functionality, credit programmes, rewards, loyalty, staff and stock management, remote customer service for self-service — and much more.

When working with Android, all of this can sit on one app-enabled device, working alongside the full range of payment options that customers are now demanding.

We’re very proud of what this offers our partners, yet we know that Android’s extensive functionality is not for every operator. This is why, in this article, we’re looking at the similarities and differences between Android and our conventional terminal OS, Linux. Each one has its perks, and it’s our job to guide you through deciding which OS is right for you. So, Android or Linux? Let’s take a look.

Introducing Android and Linux payment terminals

Today, payment terminals powered by Linux are commonplace. And as a secure, stable, and simple technology, it is easy to see why. Well-established across industries — in large retail, vending, hospitality, and parking — they offer a reliable and straightforward no-frills basis for payment.

Yet, in many industries, there is a demand for a device that does more. That’s why we developed our fleet of devices — the CCV IM30, the CCV A920, and the CCV A77 — that are powered by Android. Equipped with app functionality, the Android OS offers a much wider range of business opportunities.

Here’s just a small taste of what a smart Android device can open up for operators:

Customer loyalty integrations. App functionality lets you keep payment and loyalty offerings in the same place. And that makes it easier for you to collect rich data on your customer behaviour.

More sophisticated product selection. While Linux gives customers using self-service devices limited selection features, Android is smarter. At electric vehicle (EV) charging points for example, customers can choose from options like charge speed, payment limits, and select their individual charge point from a single device.

Inventory management. Retailers, for example, needn’t hold up customers by double-checking stock requests physically. App-based stock catalogues, accessible through the Android device, can give real-time data on-the-spot. And this can also be implemented in unattended scenarios such as micro-markets and vending locations.

That’s not all. The beauty of the Android system is that the potential functionalities are endless. From customer surveys to ID checks and inspections, business apps can revolutionise the payment device.

What you can expect from every CCV terminal

We recognise that every business is different — and what works for one may not be a priority for another. So, while many operators are getting excited about the opportunities that the Android terminal promises, you may find that Linux does the job for you just fine.

Before we get onto the differences between the two terminal types, however, here’s what you can expect from every CCV terminal — regardless of operating system. Whether it’s Linux or Android you choose, these are the features you know you can 100% rely on:

Security. We never compromise on security. For our smart terminals, we use a hardened Android solution called PayDroid to ensure full security and quality.Whether Linux or Android, every payment terminal is PCI- and EMV-certified, and also takes into account country-specific certifications (such as the DK in Germany). This means the integrity of all financial data is guaranteed. That’s a given. And we do extra checks to ensure that every business app we licence is 100% compliant

Speed. The Linux OS delivers simplicity and speed hand-in-hand. Yet, with Android, added functionality won’t undermine the smoothness of the user experience. We know that queues and delays bring customer frustration, which can impact your bottom-line. That’s why we worked hard to ensure our Android devices maintain the operating speeds of its Linux cousin.

Stability. Glitches, bugs, and interruptions have no place on payment devices. While Linux is known as one of the most stable OSs in the world, Android’s system is more open. That’s why we built the CCVStore — to ensure every app you use is fit for purpose. And only apps that we sign approve can be deployed on our Android products. If any issues do arise, our service centre is on hand to help whenever there’s a need for repairs or maintenance.

Android vs Linux: How do they compare?

So, you know what each terminal can do — and you know the quality you can expect from every CCV device. But how should you choose between the two options? Here are some of the major differences to consider between the Android and Linux OSs for payment.

Flexibility: A payment terminal or a business device?

The main difference between these terminals is their functionality. Linux’s strength is its simplicity: it’s purely a device for payment. For many operators — including large retailers with their own point-of-sale (POS) systems, or providers of low-cost vending solutions — that’s often all they need.

However, many operators want more, and Android can offer it. With its ever-growing range of apps, the Android OS can turn a simple payment terminal into a fully-functional business device. Whether its customer ID functions or unobtrusive customer surveys, we can build an Android app that offers it.

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Operability across devices

App functionality opens up a world of opportunity. Yet, Android perhaps promises most for those operators who have an app of their own already. You can bring the app you built for tablet or smartphone straight over to your payment terminal, with very limited adaptation.

Linux can only run apps designed for one particular use case, but Android will save you the costs of developing yet another use-specific app. And, across devices, this will give customers and staff a familiar brand environment that they already know and trust.

Setup and management

Our Linux terminals have the perk of being ready to use, off-the-shelf. Pre-loaded with the applications operators need for payments, set-up is as simple as plug-in and go. For operators who want to keep start-up costs as low as possible — or who need to launch at speed — this can be indispensable.

To make the most of your Android device, you’ll need to install apps before you start. It’s an extra step, but a small one. App installation happens centrally, automatically, and simultaneously across all devices. If you need an update, it’s a matter of one click rather than the individual terminal management Linux needs.


Linux has lower start-up costs, but Android creates long-term efficiencies. By putting all business functions on a single device, operators keep hardware costs down across the board. Meanwhile, with Android, you save on app development costs across use-cases and devices. And, while new payment trends may threaten hardware-dependent Linux devices, new Android apps will futureproof you for this.

Opportunities and the future

Today, your business may be comfortable with a device that prioritises simplicity over functionality. And that’s great. Yet, it’s not always easy to know what’s approaching around the corner. With payment technology changing so quickly, what you’re happy with today might be limiting tomorrow.

An Android payment terminal makes it possible to add new payment functionality overnight. And that ensures that your business remains futureproof, without the need for extra hardware investments.


Putting your business needs first

The needs of every business are unique. In some industries, for example large retail where payment terminals are hooked up to a static POS, operators may prioritise simplicity. Others might look for opportunities to bring new business-critical functionality to their devices, benefiting customers and staff.

While Android promises flexibility and futureproof functionality, the Linux OS is established, affordable, and simple. And it is relied upon to do one job well: accepting payment. While this delivers enough value for many businesses, only Android can provide supreme flexibility and interoperability across devices.

Whatever happens, your unique business needs come first. And, at CCV, we’re here to guide and help.

Read more about the Android payment trend topic

Developing apps for an Android payment terminal: The inside story

Learn, how the app development and distribution process of your app look like with CCV.

The  day-to-day benefits of using an Android smart payment terminal

We have summarised the advantages and added values working with Android terminals.

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