Going international on IBM i – Dynamic Currency Conversion

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Expanding business operations to an international scale brings a host of new challenges and considerations.  Currency conversion typically lands a spot somewhere towards the top of the list.

This past week we were contacted by an international apparel manufacturer who had the business need to process credit card transactions in Canadian currency while having the funds settle in their bank account in US Dollars.

Enter – Dynamic Currency Conversion by CyberSource and First Data!

The Solution

The Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) capability provides a value-added service to your international customers. With DCC enabled, both you and your customers know the precise amount of the sale, which means no more waiting or guessing at conversion rates or fees.

CyberSource offers First Data’s DCC service, providing your international customers the choice to pay in their credit card currency yet still funding you in U.S. dollars. The DCC service currently supports 24 of the world’s most widely accepted currencies, and provides a way to enhance customer satisfaction and easily extend your market reach without ever leaving home.

How it Works

The DCC process is simple, and no knowledge of exchange rates is required:

1. Visa® or MasterCard® account numbers are entered into your DCC-enabled application

2. CyberSource will determine if the customer’s card was issued outside of the U.S.

3. The foreign exchange rate, updated in real-time (derived from a published wholesale interbank rate, plus a foreign currency selection fee), is used to calculate the foreign currency amount

4. The converted amount is displayed to the consumer, and they are offered a choice of paying in U.S. dollars or the foreign transaction amount.

5. If the foreign currency is selected, the receipt will reflect the exchange rate including fees, the U.S. dollar amount and the foreign transaction amount

To assist with tracking, reports are provided detailing both the U.S. and foreign currency transaction amounts.

In addition, DCC reporting allows you to track and manage your foreign transactions, respond to chargebacks, and calculate the revenue your business generated from offering DCC processing.

So how does Krengeltech fit in?

Our Cybersource module for IBM i provides a tightly integrated API set for businesses running on IBM i to quickly implement credit card communication processes within their existing RPG environments.

Have a current or future need for Dynamic Currency Conversion?

Chat with us about your specific requirements or contact us via email at sales@krengeltech.com!

 

TaxCloud delivers FREE sales tax calculation for IBM i

TaxCloud_LogoTaxes of one kind or another are a burden for nearly all of us.  The same holds true for businesses that have to collect and pay sales taxes in the states in which they operate. Businesses running on IBM i have typically tried to manage the sales tax burden with either expensive pre-built software packages or in-house custom systems that need constant maintenance to account for ever-changing sales tax rates in multiple jurisdictions. Cloud computing and web services now enable a new solution called TaxCloud – a free cloud based service that uses web services technology to provide a platform for calculating, recording and even paying sales taxes to applicable jurisdictions. By using a cloud based service, the burden of system maintenance is completely removed — freeing users to focus on other aspects of running a business.

When “Free” really is free!  How can it be free, you ask?

TaxCloud is free of charge because the owners of the service are able to collect a small commission from certain states when you use TaxCloud to pay your sales tax obligations. Using TaxCloud to actually pay your sales tax obligations is optional (although you may find it very convenient to do so) but when you do, the commissions earned from those payments are what actually pays the bills for the owners of the TaxCloud service. Sort of a win-win – don’t you think?

Registration and API Credentials

So how does TaxCloud work? Well, as previously mentioned, TaxCloud is implemented as a web service – but it also includes an easy-to-use, web based admin dashboard to configure various settings, run reports, etc. The TaxCloud web service is designed specifically to tackle the calculation and processing of state and local sales taxes. To get started using TaxCloud, you simply visit http://taxcloud.net and click the “Register now” button. Once you are registered, you have access to the aforementioned TaxCloud admin dashboard that lets you customize your use of the web service to your company’s needs. To get started recording your company’s settings, you need to input the “Locations” in which you operate and have a sales tax obligation or “sales tax nexus”. You also need to input the “Websites” from which you need to calculate sales tax.

Don’t have a website? No worries, it’s really just a question of terminology — just create a placeholder website name to represent your sales tax calculation project, your company, etc. You can have as many Locations and Websites as you need, so if you need to segment your sales tax collection by division or some other method, the proper use of the Locations and Websites entries should allow you to do so.

SOAP Web Service and WSDL File (Web Services Description Language)

Once you have your API credentials, you are ready to send transactions to TaxCloud via web service. This is where RPG-XML Suite enters the picture. Using RPG-XML Suite, an RPG program can compose the needed XML request and then parse the XML response that comes back from the TaxCloud service. To assist us with knowing how those XML transactions need to be structured, the TaxCloud folks have provided a WSDL file for the SOAP based web service and its various operations here: https://api.taxcloud.net/1.0/TaxCloud.asmx?wsdl

Available SOAP Web Service Operations

The WSDL file defines the various “operations” supported by the SOAP version of the TaxCloud web service. If you have ever had any experience with credit card transactions, then you will feel right at home with the design of the TaxCloud operations. The design was implemented to closely mirror the various phases of credit card transactions, such as “Authorize” and “Capture”. By mirroring the processing of credit card transactions, the web service makes it easy for developers to know where in their code to place the web service calls for TaxCloud – usually the same place in the code that the equivalent calls are made to the credit card processing gateway. This does not mean that TaxCloud is in any way tied to credit card processing.  But, the design concept for the service was to make it similar since the majority of the incoming transactions would be from eCommerce websites that would perform credit card transactions at the same time as sales taxes would be need to calculated and recorded.

Lookup Operation

The very first operation to be called is the Lookup operation. The Lookup operation is where the initial sales tax calculation takes place. The request data for this operation will contain all the product id’s that are to be taxed and also a “taxability” code that TaxCloud uses to determine the tax rate for each type of product. Also included are the originating and destination addresses and an identifier for the “cart” which contains the collection of products. Again, you don’t have to have an actual “shopping cart” to use TaxCloud – you can just use an order identifier or some other identifier that uniquely designates the group of products in a given transaction.

Authorize Operation

At the point of processing a credit card Authorize transaction, you should also process an Authorize operation for the TaxCloud web service. Authorized transactions will not appear on reports detailing your tax liability, since no liability is recorded until the Capture operation is processed.

Capture Operation

At the point of processing a Capture transaction via your credit card gateway, you should also process a Capture operation for the TaxCloud web service. Upon Capture, the transaction will be included in the reports for the applicable time period and jurisdiction. The Capture operation also contains the date in effect for the calculation of the tax amount and for the proper reporting period.

Authorize with Capture Operation

This is simply the combination of both an Authorize and the Capture operation in a single transaction, much like a typical credit card transaction that combines these two operations.

Returned Operation

If a product is returned or cancelled after a Capture operation was already completed, the Returned operation will allow the previous Capture operation to be reversed and all reports will reflect this reversal of the applicable sales tax.

Taxability Codes

Setting up the taxability codes for your products is a very important step towards getting accurate tax calculations. Use the admin dashboard of TaxCloud to lookup the appropriate codes for your products. Some of your products may be exempt from taxes in some states, but not in others. Or perhaps food and medicine has one rate, while everything else has another rate. Make sure you determine the correct taxability code for each of your products and store that value in your product master. Then reference this code on the Lookup operation of the TaxCloud web service.

Tax Report and Filings

TaxCloud provides access to a series of reports and can also file individual state tax returns for certain states. Reports can also be downloaded in CSV format so that you can analyze the data further in Excel or import transactions into an accounting software package.

Ready to explore using your IBM i data with Tax Cloud?

Perhaps you can see advantages to your organization using the TaxCloud web service but you need help understanding how to integrate your RPG-based applications. RPG-XML Suite provides all the technology needed to access the TaxCloud web service and does so from an easy-to-use API that an experienced RPG developer can use to integrate with existing applications. You can even download a free trial of RPG-XML Suite today to test drive the integration process before you buy.

Or, if you feel you need one of our experienced developers to kick-start your TaxCloud integration project, we can develop a free proof-of-concept to get you started. We can go even further by bundling professional services into a customized package to provide whatever level of support you feel you need to get completely across the finish line.

Let me know what you think about TaxCloud’s approach!

Shoot me a note at gbissey@krengeltech.com with any thoughts or questions.

What’s the fuss with Magento Commerce?

magento laptop

Our customers and prospects teach us new things every day.  When I hear about a new solution for the very first time that a customer wants to integrate with, I might stop and think:  “Hmm, interesting”.

After hearing the same piece of technology referenced a second time, my thought process changes to:  “Now, where have I heard that before”?

And after the third time, it’s:  “What’s going on here?  I sense a trend”!

And with Magento Commerce, it’s the Third Time.

So let’s talk more about it.

The “backbone” and core business system our customers depend on is IBM i.  Running IBM i is an easy technology business decision for many CIOs.  However, selecting an eCommerce platform to complement and leverage the data and applications residing within IBM i becomes a bit more challenging.  Enter Magento Commerce.

Magento is an eBay company – acquired by the online powerhouse in June of 2011 for over $180 million dollars.  Three different product editions (as well as a comprehensive API) are available to align with your specific eCommerce vision.

Enterprise Edition

Magento Enterprise Edition is the high performance, scalable eCommerce solution for fast-growing and large businesses.  Enterprise-class features and flexibility provide the ability to create a tailored solution specific to your unique needs.

Target customers by purchasing history.  Deliver coupons and promotions.  Spread reviews across social media.  Conquer SEO with search friendly URLs.  Up-sell and cross-sell products.

Community Edition (open source)

The Community Edition is perfect for developers and tech-savvy merchants.  With this platform you can both modify and contribute to the core code and engage with a passionate community for support and guidance.  With more than 200,000 customers, Magento has become the preferred choice for many eCommerce developers.  The most recent Community Edition, version is 1.8.1.0, is available for download here.

Magento Go (hosted solution)

Magento Go is a hosted eCommerce solution ideal for small businesses just getting started in eCommerce.  By customizing the design of your store and improving functionality with extensions, entering the world of eCommerce is intended to be easy with 24/7 support assistance and Magento Go.

Magento API (Where we live – with our IBM i-friendly RPG-XML Suite!)

Talk about a comprehensive API!  The Magento API supports both SOAP and XML-RPC communication protocols.    Check it out here.

Not sure how to efficiently integrate your existing RPG applications and DB2 business data with Magento Commerce?  Download a free trial of RPG-XML Suite and put it to the test!

Or, if you’re not feeling like taking a test today, we’ll take it for you and show you through a proof of concept.  Share your specific integration needs and chat with our development team here.

Validate email addresses with Experian and RPG-XML Suite

Experian logo

Recently we were approached by a bank with a business need to validate their customer email addresses.

Experian is widely known and utilized by financial institutions as a primary source of consumer credit data.  Yet did you know they provide a broader suite of solutions that can be utilized to enhance your overall contact data quality?  From mailing address data, to phone numbers, to email addresses, Experian Data Solutions ensures your data retains its accuracy and ongoing usability.

For a moment, I’m going to pretend you’re a geek and interested in specifics on the email address validation service Experian provides.

It’s a web service known as the QAS EmailValidate API.

This API is used to quickly and accurately determine whether an email address is valid and deliverable.  If invalid, the service offers suggestions for a replacement address enabling users to select a more accurate and verified email.  This service provides a solution in the event email addresses may have been incorrectly keyed with misspellings into your core company business database.

How important is successful delivery of your business email communications?

Marketing staffs work hard to create targeted communications that result in the surfacing of new prospects.  Sales staffs work hard to follow up with new prospects to illustrate a given business need can be met.  So not only is accurate customer data key, accurate prospect data can mean the difference between a good sales month and a bad one.

Back to geek-dom.

The QAS EmailValidate API facilitates both synchronous and asynchronous communication.  Using the RESTful API, you initiate a request to Experian via an HTTP post.  Experian provides a response which contains the following data elements:

  • The submitted email address
  • A “certainty status” that contains one of the following: Verified, UnDeliverable, UnReachable, Illegitimate, Disposable, Unknown
  • Message (validation status message like “OK” or “Mailbox Full”)
  • Corrections – a list of possible replacement email addresses, if unverified

Here’s more detail on the certainty status definitions returned:

  • Verified:  Mailbox exists, is reachable, and not known to be illegitimate or disposable
  • Undeliverable:  Mailbox or domain does not exist; mailbox is full, suspended or disabled
  • Unreachable:  Domain has no reachable mail exchangers
  • Illegitimate:  Seed, spamtrap, black hole, technical role account or inactive domain
  • Disposable:  Domain is administered by a disposable email provider (e.g. Mailinator)
  • Unknown:  We were unable to conclusively verify or invalidate this address

As an IBM Business Partner, our customers run on the IBM i server with business applications written in the RPG programming language.  RPG-XML Suite provides the bridge to easily facilitate web service communications with business partners like Experian who deliver real-time benefits for your business.

What’s your current data quality challenge?

Chat with our Sales or Support team here.

And if you want to lead with “How’s the weather?”, be prepared for an unpleasant response.  It’s freezing in Minnesota 🙂

RPG-XML Suite and Jobvite – HR Recruitment on IBM i

383_Jennie-O-LogoRecently, we worked with the Jennie-O company who had a desire to improve the overall processes of publishing jobs and recruiting candidates for new job postings through their web site . The core goal was to improve efficiencies by preventing repeated data entry and make it easier for both internal employees and external candidates to apply for new career opportunities within the company.

To begin, Jennie-O implemented a new job requisition database in Lotus Notes.  An HR rep was responsible to enter key information about a given job including job title, reporting manager, job level, location, responsibilities, qualifications, etc.  Once the posting was finalized and approved, two events were triggered:

1)  The job details were sent to an internal Career Connection database to show internal employees all open job postings within the company.  Internal employees were then able to apply for jobs online.

2)  Using RPG-XML Suite and the XML interface provided by Jobvite, job data was provided to Jobvite (which acts as an external job posting service) – publishing all job opportunities and details to the public careers section of the Jennie-O web site.

The overall process allowed the HR rep to enter all pertinent information once while posting to multiple end points without any duplicate data entry.

Jobvite is the leading social recruiting platform, allowing today’s fastest-growing companies to use applicant tracking, recruiter CRM and social recruiting software solutions. After reviewing the documentation Jobvite helpfully provided, we worked with the customer through a proof of concept phase, demonstrating how RPG-XML Suite could efficiently meet their goals. We were able to work directly with some of Jobvite’s support technicians and ultimately provide a working proof of concept to our customer that implemented Jobvite’s employee web service.

Jennie-O was able to integrate Jobvite web services into their business processes, giving them better distribution to vital recruiting data. All on IBM i.  All in RPG.

You can view the RPG source code, RXS template file, and simple physical file used below:

What’s your human resource data challenge?  Comment on past victories or current opportunities for improvement!

SEPA and IBM i – Deadline looms for European payment integration

SEPAWhat is SEPA?

SEPA (Single Euro Payents Area) stands for the European Union (EU) payment integration initiative.  Following the introduction of euro notes and coins in 2002, the political drivers of the SEPA initiative (EU governments, the European Commission and the European Central Bank (ECB)), are focused on the integration of the euro payments market.  This includes:

  • Integrating the multitude of existing national euro credit transfer and euro direct debit schemes into a single set of European payment schemes.  This is a natural step towards making the euro a truly single and fully operational currency.
  • Creating a SEPA for cards which aims to ensure a consistent customer experience when making or accepting payments with cards throughout the euro area.
  • Incentivising the increased use of electronic payment instruments while reducing the costs of wholesale cash distribution.

What are the benefits of SEPA?

Once SEPA is achieved, it will be possible to exchange euro payments between any accounts in SEPA as easily as it is only possible today within national borders. Common standards, faster settlement and simplified processing will improve cash flow, reduce costs and facilitate access to new markets. Moreover, customers will enjoy the benefits resulting from increased competition in the payments market.

The implementation of innovative and competitive SEPA payment services translates into efficiency gains for businesses and public administrations. Consumers can rely on a single set of euro payment instruments covering 33 countries: one bank account, one bank card, one SEPA Credit Transfer (SCT), and one SEPA Direct Debit (SDD).

Affecting Reach

  • 33 individual countries
  • 500 million citizens
  • 87.5 billion electronic payment transactions annually

Deadline

In February 2012, the European legislator adopted the Regulation (EU) No 260/2012 establishing technical and business requirements for credit transfers and direct debits in euro and amending Regulation (EC) No 924/2009 (the SEPA Regulation), which defines February 1st 2014 as the deadline in the euro area for compliance with the core provisions of this Regulation. Effectively, this means that as of this date, existing national euro credit transfer and direct debit schemes will be replaced by SEPA Credit Transfer (SCT) and SEPA Direct Debit (SDD). The majority of market participants recognize the value of setting a deadline for migration to harmonized SEPA payment schemes through European Union Regulation. The EPC shares the view that an end date for phasing out legacy euro payment schemes for credit transfers and direct debits ensures planning security for all market participants.

Impact on technology infrastructure for companies running on the IBM i platform

SEPA involves the implementation of XML web service communications within a company’s overall technology environment.   With the pending deadline of February 1, 2014 the time is now to understand and ensure you have the necessary technology infrastructure in place to embrace all the benefits SEPA is intended to create.  RPG-XML Suite has been specifically designed to empower businesses running on IBM i with the ability to efficiently integrate XML web service communications within your existing business processes.

To discuss your specific SEPA implementation needs or the deployment of a free proof of concept, call me directly at 612-216-1808 or contact me via email at jskistad@krengeltech.com.

For an excellent high level overview on the impact and need to plan for SEPA, visit this page.

Is calculating tax wreaking havoc in your I.T. department?

There’s a reason I’m not a CPA.

Because staying on top of the seemingly daily changes to tax regulation would drive me nuts.

Sales tax, income tax, federal tax, state tax, capital gains tax…

Go ahead and pick your least favorite type of tax.  You have a lot of options.

Aside from the implications taxes have on our personal lives, many of us working in the world of information technology are forced to work with and understand business tax calculations in some capacity within our day to day jobs.

Today tax software is everywhere.  Intuit provides Turbo Tax to enable small businesses to prepare their own year-end incomes taxes.  Vertex provides an Enterprise solution to integrate all tax types with ERP and Business Intelligence systems.  Avalara provides a robust API that allows businesses to integrate sales tax calculations with almost any financial, ecommerce, point-of-sale, custom-built or third-party application.

When it comes to managing tax in the world of IT, what software is working well for you?  What process isn’t working and needs to be overhauled?

At Krengeltech, our development team has placed a strong emphasis on developing and implementing cloud-based solutions for our clients.

Are you considering cloud-based computing as a solution to your sales or income tax processing requirements?

Why or why not?

Comment on this post and share your perspective or experience.

The UPS Worldship vs. Krengelship Challenge

It’s time for a challenge.

After chatting with various businesses running on IBM i who utilize UPS Worldship, here’s the question we’ve been asking on a regular basis:

“Is running UPS Worldship software on a separate external Windows system really necessary”?

In many cases, we don’t think so.

Krengelship for UPS has been developed specifically for businesses running on IBM i who desire the following:

  • Real-time integration of UPS data within RPG business logic
  • NO end-of-day “batch” manifesting
  • Elimination of the external Windows system to host UPS Worldship
  • A 100% native RPG solution to facilitate:

Street level address validation

Time in transit comparsions

Pricing rate requests to determine best shipping cost options

Real-time package tracking

Generation of shipping labels

Scheduling and status of package pick-ups

Is this your business?

If so, Krengeltech is extending a 30 day challenge (effective through July 19th) in which a Lead IBM i Developer will install a trial of Krengelship software on your IBM i and provide up to 20 hours custom development support to validate Krengelship is a viable solution for your UPS shipping needs.

Intrigued?

Email Jeff Skistad:  jskistad<at>krengeltech.com or call 612-216-1808 for additional information.

See what you can do with real-time UPS data integration into your core RPG business systems!

What do you have to lose?

 

unCommon Disneyland, an IBM Champion, and the Salesman

Common 2012 – Disneyland Resort

Common held their 2012 annual conference May 6-9 at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California.  Adam Taylor and I exhibited on behalf of Krengeltech and enjoyed re-uniting with many IBM Power Systems pros, meeting new customers, and seeing old faces.

Mickey Mouse was everywhere.  I think I’m still brushing remnants of him out of my teeth.  Upon seemingly every encounter with a Disneyland hotel employee you were wished a “Magical Experience”.  The lady at the front desk even phonetically spelled out my confirmation code using “Snow White” for “S”.  If you can’t get excited about IBM i here, where can you?!

I thought I heard one attendee complain that Disneyland paled in comparison to last year’s “Sure it can snow in May in Minneapolis event”, but I can’t be certain.

Aaron Bartell – IBM Power Systems Champion

Forget about the tie.  Aaron Bartell has been named one of 19 IBM Power Systems Champions worldwide.  Time to get a new tie!

The IBM Champion program recognizes innovative thought leaders in the technical community — and rewards these contributors by amplifying their voice and increasing their sphere of influence. An IBM Champion is an IT professional, business leader, developer, or educator who influences and mentors others to help them make best use of IBM software, solutions, and services.

What an excellent award for a very well-deserving individual.

Way to go Aaron!  You are an excellent ambassador for both Krengeltech and IBM.

 

RPG meets iPad to give-away Kindle

Well that was a mouthful.

I forgot to mention in the Common recap that we gave away a free Amazon Kindle at the Common Exposition.  Congrats Kuresh Adenwalla from Geovera Holdings who was our lucky winner!

Irony:  Our sign up form was written in RPG using OpenRPGUI, but showcased on an iPad when we were giving away a Kindle.

Yes, many attendees commented on that fact.

What can I say, we are trendsetters.

DocuMailer for IBM i

Krengeltech’s DocuMailer allows businesses to take advantage of significant postage savings by internally automating the processes of

  • Address data cleansing (CASS)
  • Presorting mailings by zip code (PAVE)
  • And NCOA (national change of address) processing
Historically implemented on a Windows platform, DocuMailer will soon be available for IBM i users to automate the printing and mailing of documents to ensure maximum postage discount savings.  Interested?  Email jskistad@krengeltech.com.

Selling without the Barf

Everyone knows some good salesman and some bad salesman.

Over the years I’ve learned a couple tricks but I’m still a work in progress.

9 times out of 10 the customer is always right and I’m going to stick with that.

In a recent conversation, Joe shed some light on his feelings about software salesmen imposing purchasing deadlines.

Read it here.

Comments?  <Go easy on me>!

 

User Groups, Mobile Development, and the Big Secret

   

News from the road

Over the last month we’ve been at the WMCPA (Wisconsin Midrange Computer Professional Association) annual spring conference in Wisconsin, our 10th (or maybe even 12th) RPG-DB2 Summit conference in Texas, and made another trip out to the Northeast User Groups Conference from April 2nd-4th.  It’s always refreshing to meet new customers for the first time, re-unite with old faces, and meet new professionals dedicated to progressing their skill sets on IBM i.  Our team came back encouraged that our OpenRPGUI mobile development sessions were well received and attendees even left for home with high ambitions to start cranking out their first Android app!

Next stops for the upcoming month of May include the Long Island System User Group in New York City, Northeastern Systems Technology User Group in New Jersey, Fairfield Application Systems Users Group in Connecticut, and Gateway 400 in St.Louis.

Speaking of mobile development…

Mobile development adoption is growing every passing day.  We see that and we hear that.  Some companies aren’t ready today, but many are planning to deploy their first applications in the very near future if they haven’t done so already.

Help us get a pulse for mobile development within your company…Take our very short survey!

Krengel Credit soon to include Cybersource payment processing in addition to Authorize.NET

Due to popular demand from IBM i customers, Krengel Credit for IBM i will soon include a module for companies needing to interface with Cybersource for credit card processing.  Previously only available as a plug-in for RPG-XML Suite, the Cybersource module will be a stand-alone product offering formally launched in the month of May.  Email Jeff Skistad at jskistad@krengeltech.com for more information or a free trial.

IBM drops the big secret

This week on April 11th IBM announced PureSystems – a “new category of expert integrated systems”.  IBM highlights 3 major advances in this new era of computing:

  • “Scale-in” system design
  • Embedded patterns of expertise
  • Cloud ready integration
Be sure and read the official press release if you haven’t done so already.

 

Heading to Common? 

May 6th marks the start of the Common User Group annual conference in Disneyland.  Krengeltech will be there and also will be giving away a cool tablet device of some sort.  Be sure and stop by our booth!

Speaking of Common, here’s a slightly UNCOMMON blog post pondering a new name for the group of IBM aficionados.

Carpe Diem.