Talking tech since 2003

It happened again: online mega-retailer Amazon has reached into yet another industry. First rumored back in June, today Amazon unveiled the Local Register, a card reader and payments service that, much like Square and PayPal, allows users to take credit card payments via their mobile phones and with the help of a plug-in card reader.

Buying the card reader costs only $10, and doing so will allow you to swipe credit cards via Kindle Fire tablets, iOS devices, and “select Android phones.” Just which Android phones are compatible isn’t quite clear yet. The product description page says it’s been tested using the Samsung Galaxy S3, S4, and S5, though one commenter says that his OnePlus One phone isn’t compatible. That smartphone runs a modded version of Android 4.4.2, so it’s a bit of a grey area in terms of compatibility. Hopefully we’ll have more information on that in the days and weeks to come.

amazon-local-register-largeAmazon Local Register also has a leg up on the very popular Square card reader by offering a lower fee for swipes. Square takes 2.75 percent of every swipe, while Amazon takes only 1.75 percent, a rate that will stay in place until January 1, 2016, for new customers who sign up before October 31 of this year. Of course, Amazon can afford to lose money on the transaction fee, since they have money coming in every which way. Square, in the meantime, does only payments. Chances seem good that if you have an issue with your Square reader or account, there might be more dedicated staff to help you get your problem resolved. On the flipside, it’s not like Amazon is new to trying to make its customers happy.

Another detail that’s important to know: Local Register requires users to set up a new account specific to that service. That may be good or bad depending on your point of view; if you were hoping for a quick and easy addition to your pre-existing Amazon account, it looks like you’re out of luck. On the flipside, if you want to keep your Local Register separate in every way from the account you use to buy toothbrush head replacements and tea kettles, then you’re in much better shape.

It’ll be interesting to see what effect, if any, Amazon Local Register has on the competition.

[Amazon Local Register Announcement]

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