Just a week after its initial public offering, mobile payments company Square is unveiling its new card reader, which replaces the iconic mini-square mounted on top of a phone or iPad with a bulkier, standalone chip card-friendly reader. The new Square hardware is compatible with Apple Pay and Android Pay as well, and will be rolling out to customers this week.
The chip card-friendly Square reader will retail for $49, though at Apple’s WWDC conference this past spring, Square pledged to give away 250,000 readers for free.
According to a press release, customers can currently try the new Square reader at Chicago’s Honey Butter Fried Chicken, Philz Coffee in San Francisco, St. Louis’s Sump Coffee, and Cafe Grumpy in New York. The conspicuous naming of restaurants and coffee shops is no accident: Square believes food service is a major growth area, and the company offers customized point of sale (POS) software that generates kitchen tickets and more.
Last week, Square CEO Jack Dorsey hinted that Square may reintroduce its Square Wallet product, which the company pulled last year after it failed to take off. Square sees the transition from traditional cards to chip-based cardsas a potentially large growth area because it requires tens of thousands of small businesses across America to upgrade their POS systems. But it’s still unclear how long Square and Apple will continue to work together on payments tech: Apple is reportedly working on a peer-to-peer Venmo competitor, which means it could challenge Square in the future.