Working with micro-mobile businesses, like food trucks or flea market vendors? There’s a new way for them to get paid. It’s a new version of the credit-card-reader attachment called PayAnywhere, it’s Apple’s and it accepts contactless payment from the Apple Pay smartphone and smartwatch app (Apple’s answer to Google Wallet.) PayAnywhere also reads and accepts regular magstripe credit cards and the EMV chip-and-PIN cards due in October, as well as contactless, tap-and-go NFC (near-field communication) payments from Android Pay (due to eventually replace Google Wallet and debuting in September.)
If your retail merchant client hasn’t switched from old-school, mag-stripe credit card reader to less hack-prone chip-and-PIN (EMV) or NFC by October, the liability for fraud shifts from the credit-card issuer to him. That’s one persuasive argument for upgrading the reader. Another is consumers’ increasing unease around plastic.
Thursday’s announcement comes from Apple and North American Bancard, which produces the updated PayAnywhere reader. For in-store payments, your merchant plugs a PayAnywhere device into the headphone jack of an iPad, downloads the PayAnywhere point-of-sales app from the App Store, and can then take mag-stripe or NFC, wave-and-go mobile wallet payments. For itinerant transactions, an iPhone will work the same.
Of course, Apple is not first to the cloud-based point-of-sale party, as anyone knows who’s seen a Square reader or a Breadcrumb POS. Plenty of third-party point-of-sale apps run on iPads, as well as Android tablets. But true to the Apple code of vertical mastery, Apple says that its ownership of the PayAnywhere’s entire mobile payment ecosystem gives it the ability to price aggressively.
Apple Pay-reading PayAnywhere will cost $39.95, and the model announced today will run on Android tablets in another five to six weeks. Thus far, this version will be sold exclusively in Apple stores.