Emerging Payments

Verizon to Sell Square Mobile Card Readers

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Verizon Wireless plans to start selling Square Inc.'s mobile card readers in its retail stores today.

Square has long relied on retail stores to distribute its card readers, which allow small businesses to accept swiped card payments by plugging a small, square-shaped device into the headphone jack of a smartphone or tablet.

Verizon's support of Square, which also offers a software-based mobile wallet, seems to be in contrast to its stance on Google Wallet, which it has long resisted. Verizon, which is one of the carriers behind the Isis mobile-wallet venture, says it objects to Google's use of the phone's secure element, which it describes as "a secure and proprietary piece of hardware."

Image: Bloomberg News

In a letter posted online in December, Verizon named Square as one of the mobile wallets it allows its customers to use.

"For small business owners, wireless technology can provide a simple solution to allow businesses of any size to expand payment options for customers," Paul Macchia, a member of Verizon's corporate communications team, said in a blog post Jan. 31. "Using a mobile payment tool such as Square, businesses from boutique shops, to plumbers, to professional services, to salon professionals and independent contractors can accept credit or debit card payments using their smartphone or tablet."

In January, Starbucks Corp. began selling Square's readers in its stores. Starbucks invested $25 million in Square in August and began accepting Square's mobile wallet in November, though it does not use Square's readers to accept payments.

Verizon and Square separately have been working to restore payments acceptance to downtown Manhattan in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. Verizon is providing local merchants with temporary wireless phone and Internet devices, whereas Square is distributing its readers through the Alliance for Downtown New York, a business association. 

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