The profusion of apps for smartphones certainly seems to know no bounds, and while NFC based payment seems set to become the dominant form of cashless transaction, smartphone peripherals that allow users to swipe credit and debit cards still have a role to play. The most notable of these devices is Jack Dorsey's Square system and now, online payment giant Paypal has flexed its appreciable muscle and entered the fray with its new, triangular "Here" card reader, due initially for a limited release.
Paypal, which made a name for itself by pioneering the secure cashless transfer of money over the Web, wants to expand by bringing its simple, efficient system to real world, face-to-face payments, as well. To help pull it off, they approached San Francisco design house, fuseproject, and the result is a system that will, literally, give Square a run for the money. Like its four-sided competitor, Here will also be free, but each transaction will incur a 2.7% transaction fee. iOS 4.0 iPhone and (eventually) Google Android owners in the U.S., Canada, Australia and Hong Kong will get first crack at it, with other regions to follow thereafter.
When attached to the top of a smartphone's audio jack port, the front of the two-layer arrow-shaped reader swings down to keep the device from pivoting on its circular connector while reading cards. The app that drives it will produce a distinctive audio tone that signals both successful connection of the device to the phone and completion of each transaction - a feature designed to help put both customers and businesses new to mobile payments at ease.
Merchants and restaurants joining the system will sport the blue Here logo and their info will appear in the PayPal mobile app directory. Business owners will have the ability to send electronic invoices with the system which also comes with PayPal's security and fraud protection.
For more on the system's capabilities, check out the PayPal Here faq page.
The following PayPal video shows Here in action: