Mobile

Amazon reportedly targets Square with its own credit card reader

The stage at Amazon's Fire TV media event

Above: The stage at Amazon's Fire TV media event

Image Credit: Devindra Hardawar/VentureBeat

All of a sudden, Amazon’s new mobile wallet makes a lot more sense.

The online retailer is apparently planning to launch its own credit card reader next month, a la Square and PayPal, according to leaked Staples documents discovered by 9to5Mac. The reader will likely work together with Amazon’s recently launched wallet, which could give the company all the tools it needs to become a significant force in mobile payments.

The documents refer to an “Amazon Card Reader” which will sell for $10 and will likely be available the week of August 12th. Square initially sold its credit card reader for $10, but as competition in the mobile payments marketed heated up, it now offers that for free.

If the documents are accurate, it’ll be interesting to see how Amazon attempts to woo customers away from other solutions. Square has the incumbent advantage in mobile payments, PayPal has the weight of its entire payments ecosystem behind it, and Intuit (which everyone seems to forget about) offers its users the ability to connect mobile payments with its long-established solutions like Quickbooks. Why would you use Amazon’s card reader instead of any of those competitors?

If anything, the card reader will at least give Amazon a horse in the race of mobile payments. The Fire Phone landed Amazon in the smartphone market, the Fire TV made it a force to reckon with in the living room, and the Kindle Fire tablet sparked the wave of cheap (and popular) Android tablets. Despite the weak reviews of some of those products (especially the Fire Phone), they each offer Amazon new ways to spread its ecosystem.

And if this card reader idea seems ho-hum, 9to5Mac is also hearing that Amazon’s skunkworks hardware division Lab126 is working on payment solutions using fingerprint scanners. That’s something I imagine every payments company is also working on, but if Amazon manages to hit the market first with biometric payments it could use security as its big marketing tactic.

After all, how many thousands of dollars worth of purchases have you already trusted to Amazon?


Mobile developer or publisher? VentureBeat is studying mobile marketing automation. Fill out our 5-minute survey, and we'll share the data with you.