Square - the contactless chip reader is open for business

An innovative contactless chip reader dubbed “Square” launched yesterday, giving Australian businesses a new technology to charge customers with in stores and on the go.

Square is a portable, palm sized reader compatible with physical credit and debit cards, plus smartphone payment apps, Apple Pay and Android Pay. Retailers can buy it online, with ongoing operating costs involving a small percentage of each payment that is processed via the terminal.

The US owned technology extracts credit and debit card information from a mobile or card that comes into contact with it using near field communication (NFC), then uses bluetooth to send the data through.

Country Manager of Square, Ben Pfisterer, said the company’s tools “are helping to rapidly grow the market for card acceptance in one of the world’s most innovative and increasingly cashless economies.”

Aussies are known for having a high adoption rate when it comes to NFC transactions. According to the RFi Group Global Payments Evolution Study conducted last year, 53% of Australians have made a contactless transaction before, compared to only 9% in the US.

“We know NFC is important to Australian businesses, both for providing fast and secure tap-and-go card payments, and future proofing for the next wave of payment innovation like Apple Pay and Android Pay,” said Pfisterer.

For now, Square is only available in the US and Australia. The new gadget will be stocked in Officeworks, Harvey Norman, Optus and Apple stores at a recommended retail price of $59. Because it’s portable, even market stall owners can use it too, making it easier for shoppers to pay without cash.

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