Much has been written about the need for merchants to adopt various forms of contactless payments to suit jittery customers and cashiers in the midst of Covid-19, but often the conversion to touch-free transactions is easier said than done. In response, Square Inc. late Thursday unveiled an application programming interface that promises to make it easier for merchants using the company’s Square Terminal device to accept virtually any contactless technology, including mobile services such as Apple Pay and Google Pay.
San Francisco-based Square positions the API as technology that will work with any point-of-sale system, allowing developers to write programs across a wide range of businesses, from grocery stores to medical offices, without regard to platform or operating system. As the Square Terminal device includes WiFi capability, it can be positioned well away from the POS server to allow for social distancing, Square says.
The company says the API is a timely addition to Square’s product line at a time of fear and uncertainty among both merchants and customers. “Our developers and the sellers they serve are always excited about new features,” a spokesman tells Digital Transactions News by email. “This year, in the wake of Covid-19, the need for solutions that promote safe, contactless payments, like Square Terminal provides, were more important than ever.”
Square will not reveal statistics for the installed base of Square Terminal, a handheld device that was introduced in the summer of 2018, nor for the base of developers the company works with. A post on the company’s site about the new API says simply “the number of 90-day active developers building solutions for sellers on Square’s platform has grown nearly 80%” over the past two years, attributing the remark to Pankaj Bengani, global head of partnerships.
The spokesman says “active developers” include independent entities that have built apps Square sellers can link to, developers who have built custom integrations for individual merchants, and large retail businesses with in-house developers.
The new API, which to begin with is available in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom, is free to merchants. The Square Terminal costs $299, with processing at 2.6% plus 10 cents per transaction in the U.S. In Canada, the cost is $299 plus 2.65% per credit transaction and 10 cents per debit transaction.