Best in show hardware: Credit card swiper for PayPal

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I visited a lot of stands at eBay Live! this year but definately won my vote for the best new hardware product of interest to eBay sellers.

The USBSwiper does exactly what it sounds like, it enables you to swipe a credit card in a USB dongle and deposits money into your PayPal account. It works with both PayPal Payments Pro and PayPal PayFlow Pro so functions equally well in the UK and the US.

Rather than typing the details of cards into the virtual terminal it enables the card information to be read by the USBSwiper in the same manner as every cash register up and down the country prior to the introduction of chip and pin.

If, as a seller, you visit tradeshows and want to accept credit cards on the spot for customer orders all you need is your laptop, a WiFi or mobile internet connection and the USBSwiper. In addition it avoids the need for a separate merchant account for accepting credit cards, which is a boon for the small business as the only cost to process the funds are the PayPal charges.

There’s a set up cost of $49.97 (~£25.00) for the hardware and $197.00 (~£100.00) for the software license. From then on the solution costs just $4.95/mth (~£2.50) making ongoing costs negligible.

This really is one of the products sellers have been begging for for years and definitely a point of sale tool that businesses operating primarily online should consider for offline transactions.

18 Responses

  1. Looks good, especially for small B&M shops. Will be ordering one.

    I’ve had my problems with Paypal but they constantly come up with new innovating products and services for the online and now the offline industry, good luck to the usbswiper boys and girls.

    I will soon be able to take credit cards now at “Whirlys Quality Used Motors” …..luvly jubbly.

  2. There is no way in the world I would hand over my credit card to be swiped (skimmed) by someone with one of these hanging off their laptop.

  3. #3 you could take one down the pub and start taking credit card payments for duty free B&H… do make a very good point.

  4. #3 There’s not much difference between having your card swiped in one of these hanging off a laptop and half the tills in the country where they still insist on swiping your card prior to sticking it in the chip&pin reader.

  5. #6

    and #3. There is a big difference in popping in the local Tesco or even a small corner joint, than a person at a boot fair/pub/mobile selling fair etc….

    The item’s function is a good idea & will allow many small traders to take DC & CC easily, but some safe guards are definately needed to stop a fruadster cashing in. It would be easy to go back to a shop etc, but where the hell do you go if a mobile trader does not give you proper details.

    Great, but a bit of caution and Paypal needs to be careful & watch who gets one.
    Maybe something like ebays new idea about checking which computer you list with, could be uswed to watch what’s going on.

  6. PayPal already know who have signed up to Payments Pro or PayPal PayFlow Pro. The card reader is no different to you typing the information into a virtual terminal manually – just a darn sight quicker and more professional.

    Plus to be honest if you had one of those in your shop next to your cash register with a flat screen monitor and a puter under the desk no one would blink twice (in fact that’s pretty much exactly the set up in a lot of outlets).

    I take your point about being out at a boot fair though…

  7. Definitely worth keeping in the favourites for future reference. Did you do some research on the Skype mobile internet Chris? How did that go?

  8. Hi guys! I just wanted to address the security concerns that have been mentioned here.

    First, I must say that I personally don’t feel any less secure handing my credit card to somebody using a USBSwiper than I do handing it to somebody using a typical point-of-sale device. If anything should ever go wrong my credit card company will protect me. Also, I actually feel more comfortable watching somebody swipe my card (which I see everywhere) than handing them my card and watching them start typing the information into their computer (Virtual Terminal). Again, knowing that my CC company would back any fraudulent charges eases my concern there too, though.

    That being said, I can definitely understand some of the security concerns that have been brought up here. If you’ve watched the video demonstration of USBSwiper you’ll see that the swipe data actually does show up on the screen. This is biggest area of concern for most people. When I got from the show I began updating the software so that it would not only mask the swipe data similar to the way you see passwords, but it also encrypts the data within the software so that even if somebody were to hack the USBSwiper software database (which would take a LONG time) they wouldn’t have access to anything but garbled data.

    Beyond that, I am currently working with my USBSwiper hardware manufacturer to provide encrypted swipers. This will completely secure the track data right off the card rather than encrypting it inside the software.

    I’ll be posting an updated version of the software within the next 48 hours on the web site (and will also put up a new video demonstration) and have plans for new hardware availability within the next couple of months.

  9. I wonder what Visa/Mastercard would have to say about this product (in the UK)? I’m not so sure that you would be protected by your credit card company if somthing went wrong (as a buyer). So you could use this to take payments in a shop with no pin & no signature??? Would your sales be covered by paypal seller protection? Are you allowed to use the PayPal virtual terminal for face to face transactions?

  10. I have posted the updated version of USBSwiper to my the web site. You can see a list of the improvements here:

    Jimbo, the merchant in this process is PayPal, who already has an established relationship with Visa/MC, etc. PayPal is your processor so they’re who you would deal with if a buyer were to submit a chargeback or anything like that.

    That’s where typical procedures come into play like printing a receipt and collecting an authorized signature from the card holder. This can easily be done with USBSwiper, especially now that I’ve added more receipt size options with the new version. If a customer did submit a chargeback you would have this as evidence that they authorized the charge just like you would with any other bank or merchant.

    As for your questions about PayPal Seller Protection and Virtual Terminal, you can certainly use the VT to accept credit cards in person, however, local pickup items are NOT covered by seller protection.

    Now, what exactly does that mean? If a customer files a chargeback claiming it was unauthorized or the card was stolen or whatever, and then it turns out that indeed that card WAS truly stolen, PayPal would not cover you. However, if a customer simply files a dispute claiming they didn’t receive the item or didn’t authorize the charge (but the card wasn’t stolen) you would still have your signed receipt proving authorization that the customer has their item and approved the charge. You provide this information to PayPal (who then provides it to the card holder’s bank) and if all goes well they’ll see this buyer actually should have been charged and will side with you anyway. You wouldn’t need Seller Protection in that case.

    I hope that helps ease some of your concerns. If not let me know and I’ll take another stab at it. 😉

  11. USBSwiper In the UK we no longer use signatures we use chip & pin. This is not optional (although there are exceptions). As a buyer I don’t think that I would be protected (by my card company) if I was to use my card in this way.

    I’m also not sure that you would be allowed to use the VT to accept cards in person (in the UK). I thought this was meant for moto (mail order/telephone order) transactions only. In the UK merchant services need to be set up specifically for internet, moto, or face to face transactions.

    Also you also 100% confident that paypal will side with you if a receipt is provided? I thought tracking info was always necessary.

  12. I think you’ll find it the other way around that as a seller you’re not protected against unauthorised use if you use a swipe instead of Chip & Pin. As a buyer you’re still protected by your card issuer.

  13. Is this software PCI DSS compliant ? Will all your customers have to have a PCI audit ?

    ‘Also, I actually feel more comfortable watching somebody swipe my card (which I see everywhere) than handing them my card and watching them start typing the information into their computer (Virtual Terminal).’

    Do you not understand that the track 1+2 dump data is far more valuable to a criminal than just the information on the front of your card ?

  14. Chris, this is not an orthodox swipe set up. I’ve heard that some card issuers can be rather funny about claims against paypal payments. I also believe that card holders do have a certain responsibility as to how they use their card.

  15. I wouldn’t know Jimbo, I just know that in a lot of shops they still swipe your card before putting it into the Chip&Pin reader because without the swipe their damn tills won’t work. Always amuses me and makes me wonder how to tell the difference between a swipe and a skim.


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