Merchants, Are You Ready for the Square EMV Card Reader?

square emv card reader

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Square says it’s ready for the nationwide switch to EMV cards next year. Recently, the company said it would soon make available an update to its magnetic strip card readers it introduced several years ago. These readers will be able to process the new EMV cards that should be in millions of consumers’ hands by October 2015.

In addition to the credit card reader that plugs into smartphones and tablets, Square said it will also soon introduce a new reader for its Square Stand point of sale (POS) solution. In the Official Square Blog, the company recently explained:

“It will be just as easy to get your Square Stand ready for next year’s nationwide switch to chip cards (also known as EMV cards). Soon, we’ll offer a chip card-enabled reader that you can plug right into your current stand. The peripheral will be compliant with the new regulations, affordable, and very easy to set up.”

Even after the EMV readers are added, however, small businesses that use Square Stand to process traditional magnet-backed cards will still be able to do so. Square Stand connects to tablets, cash drawers and other devices to provide its basic function as a point-of-sale system.

The company gives an overview of its new EMV reader of its official website.

The company recently told Wired Magazine that the updated Square card reader can be ideal for small businesses. As the switch to EMV cards approaches, small businesses that accept payments via debit and credit card will have to decide how they’ll begin accepting payments from this new card type.

There is no mention in the Square announcement about whether there will be a cost for the updated portable Square EMV card readers used for mobile devices. Currently, Square provides the portable readers free to all users collecting its revenue from a percentage of all sales processed through the card.

EMV is a new credit card reading technology and stands for EuroPay, Mastercard, and Visa.

Rather than reading a magnetic strip from the back of a credit or debit card as it is quickly swiped through, EMV readers  have a slot into which a card is inserted. Customers will be required to use PIN numbers instead of signing credit card receipts. Each credit card is embedded with a tiny microchip. During a transaction, this microchip communicates with the reader.

Square says use of EMV technology could help reduce credit card fraud by up to 50 percent.

See related article: October 2015: Say Goodbye to Credit Card Swipes and Signatures, Hello to PINs.


Joshua Sophy Joshua Sophy is the Editor for Small Business Trends and the Head of Content Partnerships. A journalist with 20 years of experience in traditional and online media, he is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. He founded his own local newspaper, the Pottsville Free Press, covering his hometown.

3 Reactions
  1. I really have to commend Square for coming up with cutting edge payment products. I think that they are now a more viable option than PayPal if only they can somehow get most websites to use it.

  2. Can’t Swipe a Chip Card! Cant use the standard iPhone jack to decrypt the chip data. If you could all other markets around the world where chip card readers are deployed would have already been using this tech. Read the EMVco Specs about how chip cards are to be handled and you will quickly see that Square and others who use ‘fob’ based readers will put their merchants at serious risk when the liability shift occurs in 2015.

    • Tony, read what’s happening – Square has an EMV reader – a chip reader – coming out next year that is in the same form factor. It does need power, unlike the current reader, but is otherwise similar. It also doesn’t have an EMV certified PIN entry device so it is chip and signature only. But it absolutely reads the chip and meets the liability shift requirements.