Mobile payments platform provider Square has made an EMV chip-card reader available to its customers. But rather than offering the reader for free, Square is charging customers $29 as part of a pre-sale, and it won’t ship until early 2015.
Short for Europay, MasterCard, and Visa, EMV is the payments standard at the center of
the upcoming migration planned for October 2015, in which all US payment terminals must be able to accept cards embedded with microchips. Chip cards are considerably more secure than the currently used magnetic stripe cards.
The new Square reader is aesthetically similar to the mag-stripe version in use today, except it will hold EMV cards in place for the duration of the transaction while the reader and the embedded chip in the card talk back and forth.
The company plans to offer a separate EMV reader that sellers can plug directly into the hub of their Square Stand for $39.
“We’ve simplified the traditional cumbersome, power-hungry EMV terminal that costs sellers hundreds of dollars and requires complicated contracts,” said Jesse Dorogusker, head of hardware at Square, in a statement. “Our chip reader is designed with custom components and software to offer every seller a beautiful, secure, and incredibly affordable EMV solution.”
It’s worth noting, however, that the reader doesn’t appear equipped to handle chip-and-PIN transactions, which are considered to be the safest, as they require not only the chip-card be inserted but also that users enter a PIN. And to be PCI-compliant, the keypad and the reader device must be separate, so the smartphone or tablet cannot be used to register the PIN. Instead, Square’s device will likely only accept chip-and-signature transactions.