A mobile card reader is a small hardware device that connects to a tablet or smartphone to accept payment from debit or credit cards, essentially turning the device into a mobile point of sale (mPOS).
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Mobile card readers offer various functions, enabling transactions through one or more methods including card swipe, chip card and contactless payment transactions. An associated mobile app usually provides common point-of-sale (POS) features such as receipts, invoicing, sales tax calculations, and so on. Typically, the devices are free or inexpensive and users are charged a small fee per transaction. Most are compatible with iOS and Android-based devices. Examples of mobile card readers include Square Reader, EMS+ and PayPal Here.
Mobile card readers and the associated technologies are one of the enabling elements behind the surging maker movement, a trend toward small-scale and wide-spread production. The ease and affordability these devices offer for card processing helps make small-scale production feasible.
See an introduction to installing and using the EMS+ mobile card reader: