Square's new card reader also accepts Apple Pay

Square is the choice of many small business owners who need to accept credit cards for payment. Now the company is beginning to replace its old "swipe" card reader with the new Square Contactless and Chip Reader, meaning that consumers will soon be able to pay with Apple Pay at local businesses.

The company is rolling out the new reader to 100 small businesses to begin with and is taking reservations for the new $49 box for the rest of its customers. Instead of a tiny mag-stripe reader that plugs into the headphone jack of an iPhone or iPad — which will still be available for free, by the way — the Square Contactless and Chip Reader is a 2.6-inch square white plastic box with a slot on one side for chip (EMV) cards and a built-in NFC payment reader.

It’s battery powered or can be plugged into the Square Stand USB Hub for those who use Square’s point of sale system. The portable unit can be hand-carried to restaurant customers or left in place on a countertop.

Square’s web page for the new reader doesn’t say when the company will be shipping these units en masse to retailers, but expect to see them in wide use in 2016.