Amazon swipes itself into Square-like card reading business with the launch of ‘Amazon Local Register’. Should iKaaz, mSwipe and Ezetap be worried?

For local businesses, the ability to accept cards in a hassle free way is heavenly, and more so in emerging countries like India where the modus operandi for e-commerce is dominated by Cash on delivery.

On that note, the big daddy of internet commerce Amazon has debuted a new device called ‘Amazon Local Register.’ It is a credit-card processing device that comes with a mobile app (iOS & Android) designed to help small business owners accept payments through their smartphones and tablets.

Amazon Local Register

In a press statement Amazon said: “The device is a secure card reader and mobile app that provides local businesses with the tools they need to quickly and easily accept credit and debit cards from a smartphone or tablet and keep track of their growing business. Amazon Local Register customers will have access to the Amazon.com award-winning, fully dedicated customer support team, as well as in-app tracking tools. Customers who sign up for Amazon Local Register before October 31 will also receive a low promotional rate of 1.75 percent per card swipe on all major credit and debit cards until January 1, 2016.

Amazon Local Register

Amazon Local Register

Early users of Amazon Local Register shared their experiences. “My customers used to always ask if they could pay with a credit card and I always said no, as it always seemed too complicated to set up. It was easy to get started with Amazon Local Register, and taking payments is a breeze. My customers are very happy and prefer to pay with their card. Another benefit is that I don’t have to deal with going to the bank to deposit cash and cheques,” said Jannine H, a massage therapist.

Other similar offers

Intuit’s GoPayment, eBay’s PayPal point-of-sale and Square charge at the rates of about 2.7 per cent. Amazon Local Register intends to do that at 2.5 per cent charge per transaction, and the promotional offer drops the rate to 1.75 per cent, if customers sign up before October 31. The reader costs $10 and Amazon will credit back the first $10 in transaction fees to the customer, effectively making it a free offer.

This is a space where several companies are already competing locally and globally. In India, we have iKaaz, Ezetap & mSwipe in the card reading space.

Ezetap was founded by Abhijit Bose. Ezetap works in a fashion like any other mobile card reader that accepts payments.  It has a magnetic stripe credit cards and embedded c​hip with a tiny key pad to enter pin (as per RBI regulation).  Most of the leading e-commerce company executives use it. It works on a slew of phones, not just iOS & Android; and even on some feature phones. It is priced at around $50.

Mswipe was founded by Manish Patel, and has Wisepad POS solution which enables merchants to use their mobile phones. Even the ‘dumbphones’ can accept card payments.

iKaaz is another NFC-based payment providers based out of Bangalore. iKaaz expanded last year to West Africa. Most recently, iKaaz has launched in East Africa Kenya.

We still don’t know how aggressively Amazon will go after winning markets outside of the US. After seeing Jeff Bezos’ grit, injecting $2 billion the next morning that Flipkart announced its $1 billion funding no one can say for sure, except waiting to see what unfolds.

How would Indian players in the card reading space differentiate themselves from international players when they decide to make an entry into India? Any thoughts?

Emmanuel Amberber

Inhales & exhale everything startups, tech, entrepreneurship, and the intersection of India & Africa. You can reach him via emmanuel[at]yourstory.com