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Square readers can now read chip cards in just two seconds

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Down from a 4.2-second milestone in 2016

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Image: Square

Mobile payment company Square announced today that it’s lowered its chip card read time down to two seconds. The company says the industry average is typically between eight and 13 seconds. That makes Square’s Reader and Register platforms significantly faster than standard card-reading technology for EMV cards, which have rolled out broadly in tandem with retail chip readers in the US over the last five years. The company’s previous milestone was 4.2 seconds in 2016.

“Since chip cards arrived in the US, we have focused on making our chip reader fast for our sellers, and three seconds or more wasn’t quick enough,” Jesse Dorogusker, Square’s head of hardware, said in a statement. “Taking an EMV payment in as little as two seconds helps speed up the line for our sellers, gives time back to their customers, and reduces in-store fraud in the US.” Square achieved its new speed, a metric it’s been working on for years, by working with MasterCard and Visa to implement their respective M/Chip and Quick Chip technology. Square says the update “allows a cardholder to remove their card immediately once the reading is complete, without waiting for the issuer response.”

Square makes most of its money by processing payments for small- and medium-sized businesses by way of its mobile app and card-reading systems, which can be plugged into either a smartphone or tablet. Its newer card-reading systems offer support for contactless payment platforms like Apple Pay, and the company also introduced an all-in-one system called Square Register — a more advanced version of its original Square Stand platform — last fall. It also provides a peer-to-peer payment app called Square Cash.

Still, Square’s primary business depends on getting more merchants onto its platform and using its payment technology. By lowering chip reading times down to as low as two seconds, Square hopes it can lure more companies away from traditional point-of-sale systems and payment processors.