Square’s mobile credit card reader is about to become a lot more secure. The company, which provides little gadgets you plug into your smartphone or tablet to accept credit card payments on the go, is taking preorders for a more-secure version of its reader that accepts microchip-based EMV cards, as well as the old, less-secure magnetic stripe cards. Square says the new readers will ship sometime in the spring of 2015.
If you're not familiar with EMV technology, you likely will be soon. By October 2015, all merchants must accept credit cards with EMV chips under federal law, or face greater liability if a security breach occurs. EMV cards use a security code system that transmits a new code for each transaction. So even if a code is intercepted by criminals, it can't be used to make additional purchases, taking the security onus off businesses. After all, you can't mishandle sensitive customer data if you never have it in the first place.
EMV cards look just like the credit cards you're used to, but they have a built-in microchip. As more people are issued EMV cards, and more businesses begin to accept the technology, it could put a big dent in America's payment security problem. As of 2014, half of all credit card fraud worldwide occurred in the U.S.
You can preorder one of Square's EMV card readers now for $30. Don't worry – the readers will still accept regular magnetic-stripe-based credit cards, so you can carry on with business as usual. After all, the transition to EMV payment won't happen overnight. Still, it's encouraging to see that Square is giving small businesses an opportunity to get a head start on a more-secure future.