Square Reveals A Reader For Chip Payment Cards Ahead Of Coming U.S. Launch

Square is set to bring its payment card reader for mobile devices in line with modern tech used most places in the world outside of the U.S. – today it revealed its upcoming EMV and chip-compatible dongle, which will be available soon for pre-order with an estimated ship date of sometime in 2015.

The new reader looks very similar to the existing one, but it’s designed to read microchips embedded in new EMV-capable cards, which act as more advanced versions of the magnetic stripe which currently occupies the back of most U.S.-based credit/debit cards. While the chip may be new to U.S.-based institutions, which have committed to a changeover to chip-and-PIN by October 2015, it isn’t new to the rest of the world: EMV-based systems are the standard here in Canada, for instance, and in Europe as well. Square’s new reader would also mean cards in those markets can work with the reader (using the chip; many are already backwards compatible via swipe and sign, as they will remain in the U.S., too).

Square notes that the U.S. is basically the last remaining place in the world where EMV and chip-and-PIN aren’t used, and the stats show definite advantages to changing over. U.S. fraud far exceeds that of other nations when measured per capita by the volume of transactions, for instance. Square says that switching to its chip card reader will reduce liability for certain types of fraud, another point made by the payment card industry in promoting the changeover.

The new reader will be different from the old version in one significant regard, over and above the integration of chip tech: it’ll need charging to work. It has a micro USB port for that purpose, which means it’ll require a little more maintenance than the previous version for merchants, but the security benefits should outweigh any inconvenience.