Starbucks Sells Square Readers; Small Businesses Can Accept Credit Cards Anywhere

Independent business owners may want to stop by a Starbucks soon: The coffee conglomerate has partnered with Square, the mobile credit card service that lets users process most cards (for a 2.75 percent transaction fee, of course), and is now selling the reader extension for iPhones, iPads and Android devices. 

According to the New York Times, all 7,000 Starbucks cafes in the United States are now selling Square’s mobile credit card reader for $10. Even better: People new to Square can sign up and get a $10 rebate, effectively making the reader free.

Linda Mills, a Starbucks spokeswoman, said selling the reader was another step to show the company’s commitment to Square. (The theory is that businesspeople will want to meet in coffeehouses, and that the mobile gadget will help promote transactions outside of offices.) In August, the company said every American Starbucks cafe would accept payments from Square’s payment app, Square Wallet. Starbucks also invested $25 million in the start-up, and Howard D. Schultz, Starbucks’ chief executive, joined Square’s board.

Is this the next big step towards a cash-free society? And how will this impact independent businesses, like home-based travel agencies? If any person can accept a credit card (and keep 97.25 percent of the money), it seems reasonable to assume that small and independent business owners may now find it easier to compete with larger and/or brick-and-mortar companies. We'll have to wait and see how this changes the game.