Square plans to offer a version of its mobile card reader that can read EMV-chip cards, but the added security may come at a cost.
The plug-in EMV device will launch in the U.S. in early 2015 and is designed for chip-and-signature transactions, according to a Square representative. Square's website describes its new card reader as "affordable and easy to use," but the company has not said what its price will be. Square's current magstripe reader is available for free to merchants who order it by mail; it is also sold in stores for $10 with a $10 rebate when merchants activate their account.
EMV cards include technology that makes them harder to counterfeit. The U.S. is in the process of moving to the EMV standard, and the card networks have set an October 2015 deadline for this transition. After this date, most merchants who do not accept EMV cards face an increase in fraud liability (fuel merchants have until October 2017).
Though the EMV version of Square's reader looks like the magnetic-stripe version, it requires users to "dip" the short end of a payment card to read the EMV chip (instead of swiping the longer end, as is typically done for swiped card payments). It also supports magnetic-stripe payments.
Unlike rival mobile EMV card readers such as the U.K. version of PayPal Here, Square's EMV device does not have a built-in PIN pad. Square will continue to offer a magstripe-only version of its reader, the company said in a July 30 blog post.
Merchants can sign up at Square's website to be notified when the device is available to pre-order. Square is also working on an EMV version of its Square Stand hardware, which houses an iPad and is meant to be used in place of a cash register, according to the blog post.
Square Stand costs $99. Square has typically maintained a free option for card acceptance even as it has experimented with pricing for its other hardware. Square updated its reader in December to improve its performance and eliminate the need for a built-in battery.