Twenty years ago, it was a safe bet that some small stores and vendors at craft markets would not have the ability to accept credit cards. It just wasn't practical. Now, most everyone has used one at a coffee shop or farmers market. Hell, people have them at garage sales. And we've all learned how to sign our names with our fingers.
Amazon has decided to throw its considerably large hat into the ring currently occupied by companies like Square and PayPal with its new service called Local Register. It provides essentially the same basic features as its competitors, but Amazon is offering an exceedingly low rate of 1.75 percent on transactions through January 1, 2016 if you sign up before October 31 of this year. After that, the rate rises to 2.5 percent, which is still lower than Square.
But that isn't what makes this device or the offering itself from Amazon so intriguing. It's the bundled services it can provide. They already are offering a host of gadgets and add-ons to go with the swiper -- the swiper is only $10 and you get your first $10 worth of transaction fees gratis -- including receipt printers, cash drawers, dock stands and even a Kindle Fire specially equipped for use with Local Register.
Add that to the fact that Amazon is trying to entice businesses into selling products and services though the Amazon store as well as allow their customers to pay via Amazon accounts, it is easy to see how quickly this could expand.
Perhaps the most notable difference between Amazon and Square is customer service. Square didn't have a help line until 2014 and Amazon has one of the most extensive and well-trained customer service departments in retail. And anything that can tie businesses into that universe of product and service offerings is going to be difficult to resist.
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The one drawback, according to commenters who are currently dragging down the rating of the new device/service considerably, is that you cannot use an existing account to sign up for the service. That would not seem to be an insurmountable problem, which is why it is always a good idea to adopt items like these later rather than sooner. Still, that 1.75 percent transaction rate might make taking a chance on Local Register worth it.