Amazon took a major swipe at Square and PayPal Here on Wednesday, announcing the launch of Local Register, a card reader and mobile app combination that furthers the plight of payment startups by democratizing the space, but undercuts the aforementioned early entrants with a significantly lower price model.
Much like Square's card reader, Local Register plugs into the audio port of a smartphone or tablet – or Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX – allowing sellers and merchants to accept credit card payments.
The major difference out of the gate is the price: Amazon is offering the card reader for $10, and charging a low 1.75 percent fee per card swipe – a full one percent lower than Square’s 2.75 percent fee.
Granted, the 1.75 percent is a promotional rate for customers who sign up before October 31, but those who land the low rate get to keep it until January 1, 2016. After that the price jumps up to 2.5 percent.
The card reader is compatible with Android, iOS and Amazon's own Fire devices, but it seems as though the Internet giant is serious about leveraging its Kindle Fire HDX 8.9, offering the card reader and the tablet for a business bundle priced at $380. The key to the bundle is that users will gain access to Amazon's Mayday button, which provides round-the-clock tech support.
Amazon is also touting a bit of Big Data with the card reader/app combo. With in-app reporting, Amazon said businesses can check bottom line performance, sales trends and peak sales times, for example.
Even though Square has been on a noble mission to expand beyond its payments roots, having Amazon as a major competitor of its card reader will no doubt cause some concern throughout the San Francisco-based company. It still has a leg up on Amazon with its recently released EMV chip card reader, but it's almost guaranteed that Amazon has its own roadmap for EMV migration already in place.