Shopify just released its new card reader that makes it easy for merchants to complete credit or debit card-based sales on the go. The reader accepts chip dips or swipes and works with Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover. It connects wirelessly to Android and Apple phones via Bluetooth and at full charge can carry out 400 chip dips and 700 swipe transactions.
Shopify’s reader is an alternative to the popular version sold by Square, which just introduced a prepaid debit card that lets users tap into their Square Cash while shopping at brick-and-mortar stores. PayPal and Intuit also have mobile card readers, while Amazon’s short-lived version is no more. Shopify unveiled its new reader in April and began taking select pre-orders last month. Today, the reader is available to all Shopify merchants.
To use Shopify’s card reader, you’ll have to have nothing older than an iPhone 5 or iPad Gen 3 running iOS 9 or higher or an Android device running version 4.4 at minimum. It’s only available in the US and is being offered to new Shopify point-of-sale merchants for free. Everyone else can snag one for $ 29.
Square Cash’s virtual payment card might not be quite so virtual in the future. Company chief Jack Dorsey has teased a strange, all-black Visa debit card that Recode suspects is really a physical Square Cash card. A Square spokesperson declined to comment, so take this with a grain of salt, but there’s evidence to suggest there’s something to this teaser. You see, Square seriously considered a payment card back in 2014 — the company is no stranger to exploring the concept of a real-world card that draws from online funds.
There’s no guarantee that Square will launch a debit card, no matter what Dorsey is carrying in his pocket. The company reportedly ditched its payment card out of a reluctance to either antagonize its partners or wade through a tangled financial industry. However, there are a few incentives to at least consider the idea.
For one, Square has previously said it would like to “own both sides of the counter.” If it handles both the cards and the payment readers, it doesn’t have to give a cut to anyone else. There’s also the simple matter of catering to a wider customer base. While you can use Apple Pay to go shopping with Square Cash, not everyone can or wants to use an iPhone to make purchases at retail. This would let you use your virtual wallet anywhere that accepts debit cards, regardless of your phone preferences. And simply speaking, a physical card is more inviting to those people hesitant to shop with their handsets. Even if most Square Cash users aren’t about to use a tangible debit card, they might appreciate the option.
The Square Cash service added a “virtual debit card” feature back in September, and tonight during the Code Commerce event, CEO Jack Dorsey announced that it’s integrating with Apple Pay. The virtual Visa debit card lets Square Cash users spend their balance anywhere Visa is accepted (legitimately), and starting today, its iPhone app can enable the card for use on Apple Pay too. If you’re not using an iPhone or Apple Watch, Dorsey said that the company does have plans to support other platforms like Android Pay and Samsung Pay.