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How Square aims to bring Apple Pay into mom-and-pop shops

Caitlin McGarry, Leah Yamshon | July 1, 2015
Square could take Apple Pay mainstream by putting its new NFC reader in the small businesses you shop at most.

And while Square pegged its new reader to Apple Pay, the reader also supports contactless payments from Android devices equipped with NFC and accepts physical chip-and-pin cards.

square reader store
SQUARE.Using Square's new reader is super simple, but it's almost too discreet.

Making Apple Pay routine

While Apple is clearly an expert at building devices that solve problems, wading into payments hardware probably isn't at the top of its to-do list. So partnering with Square is beneficial for both companies: Apple gains a foothold with small businesses that wouldn't have transitioned to mobile payments otherwise, and Square gets a high-profile launch of a product it was gearing up to release anyway.

Businesses need to support chip-and-pin cards by October 1, otherwise liability for card fraud shifts onto them. Square wanted to offer those businesses a solution as simple as its original reader, which plugs right into an iOS device's headphone jack. The new reader accepts both chip-and-pin cards and NFC payments, and connects wirelessly to an iPhone, iPad, or Square Stand, taking up much less counter space than traditional payment terminals. It's also only $49, with a $49 card processing credit. The first 250,000 businesses to preorder get the new reader for free when it ships this fall.

It's unclear just how many of Square's millions of business customers (as specific a figure as the company will share) will upgrade to the new reader, but Square hardware chief Jesse Dorogusker told Macworld that many will be spurred to quickly adopt NFC and EMV because of customer demand.

"Buyers will slowly and then suddenly insist on paying with these new technologies," he said. "I never want a business owner looking across the counter at the buyer and saying, I'm sorry, we don't accept that.'"

Americans are getting fed up with card fraud--it seems like every month another retailer is hacked or your card data is skimmed. Apple Pay and chip-and-pin cards go a long way toward preventing fraud with enhanced security.

Apple is still waiting for a majority of the nation's 100 largest retail chains to get on board with Apple Pay, but if the small stores people frequent throughout the week start accepting contactless payments, it will establish an expectation that other merchants will need to meet.

"People don't shop at big-box retailers every day," Dorogusker said. "It's the stores you shop at every day that create habits. Ironically, these are the businesses that get left out of these transitions."


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