Merchants may have some difficulty switching to EMV cards next year, but at least they’ll have a range of options when it comes to payment terminals. Square is debuting its affordable chip card reader for preorder today.
The announcement comes nearly a year in advance of Visa and MasterCard’s 2015 time frame for merchants to begin accepting chip cards or else incur the costs associated with fraudulent charges on traditional magnetic swipe cards. Square is using signatures to authorize chip card transactions, which some may say is less secure than a chip-and-pin code framework.
Though Square’s new card reader isn’t free (like its swipe card reader), it is still reasonably priced. The mobile phone chip reader will be available for $29 and the chip card accessory for point-of-sale terminals will cost $39. Most chip card readers currently being advertised run the range of $250-$300 per unit, though many of them offer more functionality than a simple card reader.
Poynt, for example, is a recently launched tablet-like point-of-sale interface equipped to accept EMV, NFC, and traditional magnetic strip cards. Poynt also features an application platform and store, though users pay more for that utility — each unit sells for $300. The same can be said for First Data’s Clover, which just unveiled a similar product called Clover Mobile. Prices vary for Clover Mobile because it’s sold through banks and other sales channels, though it will be offering developer units for $350.
Square’s chip card reader does not accept NFC. The company has said it will integrate with Apple Pay, which likely means an eventual NFC solution, but for the moment Square says it’s focused on getting merchants up to speed with chip cards by the 2015 deadline.