Review: Square contactless + chip reader, turns your SMB into a big business

    Square is the company that simplified in-person payments. Their latest creation allows small businesses, like the weekend market stall, to sell their products to customers and offer every payment option the big guys have. With the Square contactless + chip reader, customers can tap and pay with Visa PayWave or Mastercard PayPass or even NFC using their phone or smartwatch. For transactions under $100, this doesn’t require a pin entry, dramatically speeding up the transaction, meaning you can do more per hour. For those who want to enter a pin (or have to due to the purchase price) there’s a slot in the top of the reader to accommodate a card being inserted. The complimentary mobile app wireless connects to the dock and allows customers to enter their 4-digits.

    After the transaction is complete, the mobile app provides an option email the user a receipt, or connect to a wireless printer if you’re going old-school. The solution from Square is an end-to-end one, meaning the payments accepted are immediately logged and available to report on from the web interface.

    We started with a little white credit card reader but haven’t stopped there. Our new reader helps our sellers accept chip cards and NFC payments, and our powerful Point of Sale ecosystem enables businesses to track and manage every aspect of their growing business.

    We’re empowering the independent electrician to send invoices, setting up the favourite food van with a delivery option, helping the ice cream shop manage its employees, and giving the burgeoning coffee chain the payments tools they need to accept credit cards in their second, third and fourth location.


    To get started, you’ll need to signup for a Square account. This process is pretty straight forward, just supply the necessary details, then you’ll wait for an email to confirm your account has been reviewed and approved. From that point you’re ready to connect the card reader.

    From your account Dashboard, just head to the devices section and click add device. This will walk you through the setup steps to sync the reader to your account. Once this is done, you can start taking payments. While you can do it from the web, most people will head to their mobile device of choice, download the Square app and sign in.

    Now your setup to accept money, you need to consider where the money will go once it come flooding in. This is where you’ll connect a bank account to your Square account. When you provide the account details, Square deposits a small amount, usually a few cents, then you enter the amount that shows up into your Square Dashboard, verifying this is an account you have access to.

    IFTTT support

    As all good, modern payment platforms should, Square has support for IFTTT. This means you can create some really smart, automated workflows, based on transactions. The IFTTT channel for square is available at

    Some of my favourite Applets include receiving an Android or iOS notification for transactions over X amount. You can also get weekly email digests of transactions, or be alerted about refunds over a defined value. You can also have Square post to a Slack channel, or log transactions to spreadsheet in Google Docs.

    When you think through the practicalities of how this will be used, you’ll understand there’ll be multiple staff taking transactions and Square also support multiple users ($3 pm to enable per-employee sales tracking). This could allow you reward standout employees, or have discussions with those that aren’t so crash hot. The point being that live information about how your business is going, is available to you anywhere anytime. Buy another reader and you could have multiple sales points connected to the same Square back end.


    If you fall in love with this solution from Square and want to use it in a more permanent setup like a retail shopfront, then you should consider the dock that allows the reader to slide in and present itself to customers. The extra angle afforded by the dock, makes it easier for a card to be inserted when customers are using a card with a security chip. 

    Heckler Stand for iPad Air and iPad Air 2 and iPad Pro 9.7
    Square understands you’ll probably want a nice big touchscreen interface for your customers to interact with, so offer a secure stand for iPads. This costs $169.00, but if you’re serious about selling you’re goods, its a no brainer, get it.



    Stalls like this one from HMBAS is a perfect example of a situation that could take advantage of the Square solution.

    Price and Availability

    The Square Contactless + Chip reader costs A$59.00 or the Square Chip Card reader on its own is A$19.00. The initial price is very affordable and is priced well based on the competition from PayPal Here.

    The other cost of running Square in your business is the transaction costs. Square’s processing fee is 1.9% per inserted, swiped or manually entered transaction and 2.5% for each paid Square Invoice or 2.2% for payments through the Square E-Commerce API or Virtual Terminal. Its worth noting that this is a flat fee for all cards, avoiding the complexity for the business and customer or advertising different fees for different cards. Fees are taken out of the total amount of each transaction, including GST and tip (not specifically applicable in Aus).

    For comparison, PayPal Here’s fees are 1.95% for card reader payments and 2.9% + $0.30 for manual entry in the app. Which ever way you look at it, Square is cheaper and if you’re doing a large volume of sales, every percent or fraction of a percent in fees is less money in your pocket.


    If you’re starting a business, or running an existing one, you’ll need to have a slick payment solution to make you spend less time on payment processing and more time making great products and growing your customer base.

    As far as a retail or in-person solution, Square have an incredibly compelling, affordable option right here. If you choose Square, you’ll also have the ability to leverage one of their online integrations. CMS’s like Weebly and Wix as well as digital storefronts like WooCommerce and Magento all now support Square. They’ve even considered you’re accounting and tax with support for Intuit’s QuickBooks Online and Xero, making tax time a far simpler process.

    Of course if you know a decent web developer, there’s a Square API for manual integrations into websites or mobile applications.

    The major competitor here is PayPal and if someone already has a business account there, its a relatively easy walk to use their card reading solution. That said, Square’s cheaper transaction pricing may be enough to win those customers over.

    The IFTTT integration is fantastic and a serious asset to what Square is offering here. Automating financial transactions is something I’d love to do with my personal finances, but Banks, at least for now, don’t offer IFTTT integration. This will save businesses time manually exporting and shifting data between systems.

    Ultimately this is a very good solution for those looking to take payments in the real world. While large businesses will likely already have this issue solved by expensive corporate solutions, this give small businesses and even hobbyists a chance to compete at an equal footing. Its also worth remembering your customers will love the ability to transact with you by their preferred method of payment. At the end of the day, once you get through the small learning curve, you’ll get to focus more on product and profit than accounting and that’s a massive success with this product offering.

    Jason Cartwright
    Jason Cartwright
    Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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