GigaOM is reporting this evening that eBay-owned PayPal will announce a credit card-reading dongle at a San Francisco event this Thursday focused on small business. The obvious competitor for such a product is Jack Dorsey's Square — and coincidentally, GigaOM says that PayPal's unit may be triangular, which if true could go down as one of the most subtle and creative competitive digs in recent memory.
For PayPal, the move into physical card-reading systems is an obvious one: systems like Square and others are getting lots of attention lately as next-gen payment platforms for shops and enterprising individuals who've got an iPhone, iPad, or Android device handy. Presumably, PayPal would take a cut of the transaction before forwarding the remainder to the seller's account — just as it does already, the only difference being that the buyer would be able to pay with a card rather than a PayPal account of their own. We're sure PayPal's dream would be for every buyer to come equipped with a PayPal account, a smartphone, and PayPal's mobile app, but until that happens, a card reader accessory gives the company a way to keep the transaction within its walls.