Retailers who've been waiting for Square to jump the pond can now sign up with startup mPowa, and start using a Bluetooth reader capable of processing Chip 'n PIN cards. mPowa does have a reader almost identical to the headline-grabbing Square, one which balances on top of an iPhone to read the magnetic stripe, but they'll also …
Big caveat on "PINs are useless without the card"
This is only true if they don't have the magstripe. I believe that even if not common in the UK there are ATMs around the world that do not support chips or at will fall back to the magstripe if it can't be read.
If the shop assistant swipes your card you should refuse to provide the PIN. Chip & PIN OR swipe and sign. Don't mix them up.
The device in the article may be chip only which would be OK but would prevent it taking money from Anmericans.
"one which balances on top of an iPhone to read the magnetic stripe, but they'll also provide an (equally free) box which connects via Bluetooth to accept Chip-'n-PIN-authenticated transactions: though with no better rate and customers perhaps reluctant to share their PINs, one might ask why bother?"
Maybe they have something that isn't an iPhone and want to be able to take payments, as presumably the balancy-on-top-of-iphone version of the card reader has one of Apple's proprietary dock connectors?
The thing and others like it is designed to fit into the headset port on top of the iPhone. And unlike the dock connector, it's pretty well standardized out of necessity, so the thing DOES work on Android phones, and Square DOES offer an Android version of their software. The magstripe data is read in via the microphone connector, which the software then interprets.
Re: Actually, no.
Fair enough. I guess the chip-n-pin one is wireless so the pin part can be handed to the customer, something that doesn't tend to be done for the swiping one, then.
mPowa - The details
The magnetic-stripe reader connects to the phone via the headphone jack so will work with any smartphone platform.
Also an Android version is coming soon for those of you who don't own an iPhone.
/Android Developer at mPowa
Any questions just ask.
An interesting video about the lack of security on touchless payment cards
You can always spot the difference between a genuine "coming soon" Chip & PIN device and vapourware - if it's not on the site below, generally it's nothing more than a nice picture. In the case of the picture in the article, I'd say it's not even plausible since it's a requirement that Chip & PIN terminals have their own screen.
There's a number of real mobile payment solutions that take Chip & PIN out there but only one non-iPhone one at the moment - the Verifone VX600 (aka Motorola MPM-100). And both of them (and the iPhone dock versions) all have screens.
Don't believe the hype kids!
"...Square and its ilk process credit card transactions for companies too small to deal direct with the banks..."
My local pub makes less than required for the landlord/landlady to pay income tax, they deal with a bank for card payments, also the bank don't charge them because they don't reach a threshold. I've also seen card payments taken at market stalls with the new battery/GSM PEDs, so I don't understand exactly which market these devices are aimed at.
Also, if someone presented me with something like this, I'd likely prefer to pay in cash, just in case.
How to make your business look cheap lesson 101
I've got a proper card machine with a Vodafone SIM which roams onto any network. It costs about £20/month, then 1.5% for credit cards or 15p for debit card transactions. It looks the part, prints a proper receipt etc. All I needed to get this was a business bank account, so why would anyone running a business bother with this mickey mouse solution?
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