Square unveils the Square Terminal, designed to replace old keypad credit card machines

Square is launching a new piece of hardware today — the Square Terminal.

As explained to me by the company’s Head of Hardware Jesse Dorogusker, the Terminal fills a gap the company’s product lineup — unlike the basic card reader, it provides an all-in-one hardware experience (no phone or tablet required), but more affordable than the Square Register.

Dorogusker suggested that it’s really designed to replace the “outdated” credit card terminals that you’ll encounter in all kinds of stores (like the gray block that sits on the counter of my local bodega). He argued that these terminals often come with onerous contracts for the business owner, and they’re not a great experience for consumers, either.

The new Terminal, on the other hand, provides a more Square-like experience. For one thing, it works with WiFi and is powered by an all-day battery, so it can be carried around the store and handed over to customers.

“One of the really fun things we realized about this product is that in addition to having Square Payments built-in, it unlocks people to use it in new ways,” Dorogusker said.

For example, he said the beta testers included a restaurant that can now process payments at the customer’s table, a salon that allows customers to pay while they’re still in their chair and a plastic surgeon whose patients can go through the bill while in the privacy of the treatment room.

Dorogusker acknowledged that restaurants in some countries are already bringing wireless card terminals to customers’ tables, but he said that they don’t have the other advantages of a Square Terminal, like a display that allows you to see the price of every item you’re buying. Plus, there’s the ability to accept payments from smartphones and other devices through Apple Pay and Google Pay, and there’s Square’s two-second processing time for chip cards.

Square Terminal costs $399. Businesses that are new to Square and that order now will also receive a $300 processing credit. With or without the credit, Square will process those payments on the same simple terms it offers to everyone else — 2.6 percent, plus 10 cents for each transaction.