Pinpads are small metallic or plastic boxes with 10-numeric and up to 16 overall keys – including asterisks, transaction cancellation and others keys on their face that are used by banking customers to transfer special information for various transaction at Automated Teller Machines or other such devices. Connected to a processing terminal, they are typically used by cardholders to enter Personal Identification Numbers and for debit card transactions.

A pinpad apparatus usually includes an alpha-numeric pad, an encrypting circuit and a link that joins the pad and the encrypting circuit for operation. The pad is used for entering an identifier – usually a discreet 4-digit number – and the circuit for encrypting the entered identifier. The pad may be a physical touch pad, like the N-wire technology touch pad in which the buttons used depress and submit information to the encryption circuit. Increasingly in common use are now virtual touch screen pads, in which all of the functions of the mechanical pinpads are received through a video screen that detects heat and motion over designated spots where a virtual “keypad” is laid out for transmitting information. The encrypting circuit may be a CPU and a memory chip that is essentially programmed to encrypt. The CPU and programmed memory is usually the first CPU programmable to encrypt the entered identifier, through which the identifier passes. The encrypting circuit may also be a micro controller programmed to encrypt the transaction. The encrypting circuit may also be an application-specific integrated circuit, known as ASIC.

A pinpad apparatus usually includes a housing that encloses the encrypting circuit and link, which is designed to be resistant to access, tapping, extreme weather and excessive wear. The housing may be at least partially what is known as chip-on-glass technology. The encrypting circuit, in this case, is embedded in the housing, as is the link also. A method for encrypting an identifier includes placing a pad for entering an identifier, a circuit for encrypting an identifier and a link communicative that joins the pad and the circuit in a sturdy housing. An identifier is entered directly on the pad and communicated directly to the encrypting circuit. The encrypting circuit encrypts the identifier. The encrypted identifier may be forwarded for complete verification.

Pinpads are not to be confused for Pin Pads, which are similar alpha-numeric pads with an encrypting circuit and a link that joins the pad and the encrypting circuit for operation, but are largely used for submitting credit and debit card information from a remote retail setting, such as a brick-and-mortar store, as opposed to an ATM.