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Amazon rolls out mobile card reader

Amazon.com

David McNew/Getty Images

Amazon.com

WASHINGTON — Amazon.com revealed Wednesday it may soon be coming to a register, food truck, or farmers market near you.

The online retailer has unveiled ‘‘Amazon Local Register,’’ a physical credit card reader that plugs into a smartphone or tablet’s headphone jack. Stores using the reader will be able to use the same payment-processing system that Amazon uses for its transactions online. Those interested can sign up for the service starting immediately.

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The reader works with roughly a dozen devices, including Apple’s iPhone and i-Pad, the three most recent models of Samsung’s Galaxy S line, and Amazon’s own Kindle Fire tablets. Support for Amazon’s new Fire phone is ‘‘coming soon,’’ the company said; other Android devices may work with the reader, but only a handful are officially supported.

The move puts Amazon in direct competition with other card readers.

The introduction of portable card readers has made it easier for small merchants such as those running food stands, kiosks, or farmers market stalls, to move beyond cash-only policies. One of the most notable is Square, which boasts on its website that it has brought the ability to process credit cards to ‘‘millions of businesses’’ by way of its plug-in card reader and has expanded its offerings to include scheduling and other business software.

Companies such as eBay’s PayPal division and Intuit have also released their own card readers for small businesses, charging the businesses a fee per transaction to process the credit card payments.

Businesses must buy Amazon’s card reader for $10 and download the free mobile app from the Amazon app store, the Apple app store, or Google Play.

Similar to Amazon’s strategy in many of its businesses, the company aims to compete on price in the mobile payment arena.

For customers who sign up for the service by Oct. 31, Amazon will take as its fee 1.75 percent of each payment processed, or each ‘‘swipe’’ of the card, a special rate that will last until Jan. 1, 2016. For people who sign up after Oct. 31, Amazon will take a service fee of 2.5 percent of each payment processed.

The first $10 in transaction fees will be credited back to the customer, essentially paying for the card reader.

That’s below most of its competitors’ rates.

Square takes a fee of 2.75 percent of each transaction. PayPal Here takes 2.7 percent of each transaction, and Intuit’s GoPayment rates start at 1.75 percent per transaction if businesses pay a $19.95 monthly rate or 2.4 percent of each transaction without a monthly payment.

Amazon is entering the mobile payment space amid rapid growth in the industry.

Market research firm IDC estimates that mobile payments could top a trillion dollars globally within the next five years. That includes all forms of mobile payments, such as items purchased online via a phone or tablet, fund transfers, and items bought using a mobile gadget as a payment-accepting device.

Amazon’s stock rose 2.18 percent Wednesday, to close at 326.28.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.
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