What does Square mobile card reader mean for Australian small business?

Earlier this month, Square launched its card reader into Australia at Square Market, a pop-up marketplace held at Melbourne’s Federation Square.

Low cost, mobile and easy to use, digital payment platform Square plugs straight into both Android and iOS tablets and mobile devices to accept credit and debit card payments. The mobile card reader’s small size and free point-of-sale app Register have been designed with the needs of businesses such as tradesmen, food trucks and market sellers in mind.

“A lot of hard work has gone into it to create an alternative solution for small business; we think there is a huge gap in the market in Australia,” says Square country manager Ben Pfisterer.

In the local market, Square will pitch itself against immediate competition Paypal, Braintree (owned by Paypal), Mint Payments and Tyro Payments. But at only $19 for an initial purchase, and just 1.9 percent on each transaction with no monthly fee, Square is the lowest cost card payment reader available in Australia.

Plus, payments made on Square’s mobile reader are transferred directly to an Australian bank account.

Available in the US and other countries, Square has partnered with the Australian transactional banking services company Cuscal to bring the e-commerce platform to Australia. The only factor delaying Square expansion into the Australian space was due to the PIN-only configuration for card payments. This requires more layers of security than signature based authorisations of transactions if used through a ‘non-bank’ POS device.

“Our launch into Australia is an important step for our company,” says Square CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey, “and an exciting moment for a market so committed to innovation and an entrepreneurial small business community.”

Dorsey is best known for social media platform Twitter, which he helped found in 2006 and now has 300 million users worldwide.

What started as a hand-held point of sale device when it was launched in 2009, Square has grown to include a range of backend services, including online invoicing and payroll functions, inventory management and business analytics.

“Payment is another form of communication,” he told Vanity Fair in 2011. “But it’s never been treated as such. It’s never been designed. It’s never felt magical.”

If anyone can transform the way Australians buy and sell into a magical experience, this is the man for the job.

“We’re empowering local sellers with the tools they need to start, run and grow their businesses,” says Dorsey.

Square’s launch into Australia follows huge success in the US.

“You can just throw it in your pocket and go to the market to set up your stall. It really simplifies everything,” said Pfisterer.

For small businesses, accepting mobile payments used to come with a complicated web of fees, hardware and gateway services. The days of complexity are now gone, with mobile payment devices like Square requiring little to no investment and customer convenience like never before.