By John Stewart
Tech companies like Square Inc. made their reputations by rolling out simple card readers that linked to Apple Inc.’s iPhone via its audio jack, but now that Apple has eliminated the jack from its newly announced iPhone 7, that option is no longer available on the computing giant’s most advanced mobile device just as the EMV wave is arriving at small merchants’ doors.
In response, mobile point-of-sale specialist CardFlight Inc. on Thursday offered two new card readers, the Bold B550 and B500, that connect to smart phones via Bluetooth and can process both EMV and near-field communication (NFC) transactions. The New York City-based company says it is taking orders for the readers now and expects to begin shipping later this month.
“CardFlight clients who want to use new smart-phone and tablet devices can accept payments using the latest mobile payment technologies, including EMV chip cards, contactless NFC payments, and mobile wallets such as Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay, with the new readers that connect via Bluetooth, instead of an audio jack,” the company says in a press release.
The new readers are part of SwipeSimple, a mobile POS offering CardFlight makes available to resellers such as independent sales organizations and banks. They are also available through a software development kit CardFlight offers to app developers who want to enable card-present payments. The devices come certified for EMV by First Data Corp., with additional processor certifications expected, the company says.
CardFlight’s announcement does not include information on pricing, but Derek Webster, the company’s founder and chief executive, tells Digital Transactions News the Bold B500 lists for $79, while the B550 is priced at $149. Volume discounts are available, and resellers are free to set their own prices. CardFlight says it will continue to offer card readers that connect to phones via the headphone jack, including what it calls its “popular” Eclipse A200 device.
Three-year-old CardFlight jumped on the EMV bandwagon early, and last month reported that 46% of all transactions processed through its gateway were chip-on-chip, meaning chip cards had been presented and processed as chip cards, rather than being processed as mag-stripe transactions. That was up from 19% in January and four times the 11.1% rate Visa Inc. saw networkwide in July, according to Digital Transactions News calculations.
Square, which debuted in 2010 with a card reader designed for headphone jacks, said headphone-jack adapters, such as what Apple will include with the iPhone 7, will work with its readers. But the company, like CardFlight, touts its Bluetooth-enabled contact and contactless readers. “Local business owners have ordered more than half a million readers, making it easy for their customers to pay with their cards or phones from Santa Fe to St. Louis,” says Semonti Stephens, a Square spokeswoman.