updated 07:43 pm EDT, Fri July 5, 2013
System is iPad-based, offers portable and modular POS system
Square, the company that has offered various credit-card payment systems for Apple's mobile devices, is now partnering with the iPhone maker to bring a new Point-of-Sale (POS) system to market that will be featured in Apple retail stores. The Square Stand turns an iPad into both a credit-card terminal and full POS system that works with Square's Register app and external devices such as cash drawers, receipt printers and barcode scanners along side the payment card reader. The $300 device will begin shipping on July 8 from Square's website, and be available for sale at Apple's US stores on July 9.
Oddly, only the iPad 2 and third-generation iPad can presently be used with the device, since the Stand requires a 30-pin connection. A Lightning-compatible version will presumably be made available soon. Square offers both the Square Stand on its own or a complete kit with a receipt printer and cash drawer in a "Business in a Box" package. At present, both are only offered in the US. Both are clearly aimed at small businesses that need services such as card payment options, inventory reports, payment accounting and employee logins without paying for an IT staff or elaborate setup.
The original Square Reader, a small device that allows any Wi-Fi or 3G/LTE connected iOS mobile device to accept credit card payments, has had a profound effect on small and micro-sized businesses. It allows merchants to quickly create a Square account, link to a bank account and begin accepting payments almost immediately. Square readers are particularly popular at trade shows and outdoor events, but can be used anywhere a wireless Internet connection is available. The credit card information is hardware-encrypted so that no sensitive data is transmitted in the clear.
Square charges a flat rate of 2.75 percent of credit card purchases for its service, which does not require a merchant account and has no other fees. Cleared payments are deposited directly to the bank of the business owner's choice, and reports are available showing what has sold along with the ability to create custom reports. The system accepts cash, Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover along with debit or gift cards that have a Visa or Mastercard badge on them, but does not accept non-badged debit cards which are still used by some banks and credit unions. Square can also accept HSA cards for some health-related businesses.