Amazon introduced the Amazon Local Register service, a new secure card reader and mobile app that allows businesses and individuals to receive debit and credit card payments on a smartphone or tablet. This service (opens in new tab) includes in-app tracking tools and is backed by a dedicated customer support team.
"From clothing stores to contractors, food trucks to accountants, businesses and organizations using Amazon Local Register will enjoy industry-leading low rates, trusted and secure payment processing, and access to award-winning customer support," said Matt Swann, Vice President of Amazon Local Commerce.
To get started, Amazon customers will need to establish an account, purchase the card reader for $10, and then download the app from Apple's App Store, Google Play or Amazon's Appstore. Amazon is offering the card reader now with free 2-day shipping, or customers can wait until August 19 to purchase the device locally at Staples.
Amazon points out (opens in new tab) that Amazon Local Service isn't compatible with all iOS and Android devices. According to the company, iOS 7 or later is needed on iPhones and iPads. Only three Android devices are officially supported -- the Samsung Galaxy S3, S4 and S5 -- although the service may work on other devices using Android 4.0 or higher. These devices could experience issues that may render the app unusable, the company warns.
Naturally, the Fire HD and HDX tablets are compatible, as will the Fire Phone "soon."
So how much does this service cost? The first $10 transaction will be credited back to the customer, thus making the card reader essentially free. However, Amazon generates its revenue from fees, which is 1.75 percent for card-swiped transactions and 2.75 percent for manually-keyed transactions.
Customers are urged to sign up by October 31, 2014, as the card transactions will remain 1.75 percent to those members until December 31, 2015. After that, the price jumps to 2.5 percent per swipe.
Amazon isn't the only company revealing a new way to make a purchase. A startup called Shift Payments is creating a new way for consumers to spend their hard-earned cash, loyalty points and digital dollars -- including Bitcoin and Ripple. The company is currently testing a debit card with 100 people in the San Francisco area and other places around the world.
Unfortunately, American banks aren't too keen on the idea. In fact, one of the original banking partners jumped ship, according to Meg Nakamura, one of the Shift founders. She told TechCrunch that banks in the United States aren't willing to take a chance in supporting the Shift Payments model. Thankfully, other banks overseas are more willing to take the chance.
"It's just going to take time," she told the site. "U.S. banks are engaged and excited about the technology and its potential. They're watching regulatory direction closely."