Twitter Founder Jack Dorsey was the first to realise the ability of the iPhone to become a wireless card reader. A month after this realisation, a prototype for the Square was born. The square is essentially a small magnetic reader that plugs into the headphone jack of an iPhone. When a credit card (or a debit card) is swiped through the reader, it reads the data and converts it into an audio signal. The microphone picks up the audio, sends it through the processors and then is routed to Square’s software application on the iPhone.
What this means is that a tiny device which plugs straight into an iPhone can give anyone the ability to accept card payments on the go. The possibilities of this type of gadget are endless. If you ran a car-boot sale, a market, or even if you were in a band selling t-shirts and merchandise you could accept payments via your iPhone. No data is stored on the reader itself so it is a much safer alternative to carrying large amounts of money around.
Soon after the Square, iCharge came along, a very similar device which offers electronic receipts, advanced credit card transaction software and free web software.
Following in their footsteps is Swipe it. This device seems to be aimed at the more professional market such as shops, maybe even taxis and pizza deliveries. It’s a little less portable than the keychain style of Square and iCharge but it has a much more sturdy and reliable look which mimics a conventional card-reader, which means you don’t have to worry about swiping too hard and snapping the thing out of your iPhone. It comes with an adjustable spring-loaded arm to support wide range of iPhone and iPod touch sizes, inside or outside casing and it even comes with an AC adaptor so you can charge up your iPhone/iPod touch whilst it is hooked up to the reader. The app is already available to download and the reader will be released very soon at simplyswipeit.com
Fingers crossed that taxis will soon be carrying iPhones and Swipe its and gone will be the days of adding an extra five pounds to your journey whilst they wait for you to run to the cash-machine and back.