The Square Reader, a tiny credit and debit card reader that plugs into your phone, can now be bought in Australia for the bargain price of AU$19. Australia is only the fourth country to get the service, following on from the US, Canada and Japan.
Elegantly designed, the Reader is a small (unsurprisingly) square device that plugs into the headphone jack on your phone or tablet, allowing the Square payment app to read and process credit and debit cards.
Launching in 2009 and based in California, Square shares a CEO with Twitter in the form of Jack Dorsey. His high profile has no doubt contributed to the awareness and popularity of the service in the US, leading to an IPO of the company in November last year.
The concept is pretty simple: a low cost, easy-to-set up payment system for small business and sole traders. The size of the device makes it particularly interesting to businesses that are on the road, so look for the Square Reader in food trucks and coffee carts once it gets a foothold in Australia.
Square makes its cash from a 1.9 percent transaction fee on all payments. This is a slightly different model to the US, where the reader is free but Square gets 2.75 percent.
Visa, MasterCard and even American Express cards are all supported locally. Square also features a merchant dashboard, which offers sales analytics, online invoicing and even inventory management.
In a media statement, Square's Australian country manager Ben Pfisterer said the launch was an Australian first. "This is the first time Australia is seeing one low, single rate for a powerful ecosystem of tools."
Sadly, but not uncommonly, the Reader launching in Australia isn't the latest version available. Earlier this year Square rolled out an NFC-enabled contactless payment system that allows for customers to pay with Apple Pay, as well as credit and debit cards. Square was asked about its plans to bring the new Reader into Australia, but avoided offering a clear answer regarding timing.
Updated 3.43 p.m. AEDT: Added response from Square