The reader itself, like Square, plugs into a phone or tablet’s headphone jack. Created by the industrial-design gods at Fuseproject, it’s a triangle with a fold-down wing that’s designed to brace the reader so it doesn’t tumble off. It encrypts the card data before transmitting it to the mobile device;Square’s original reader was notoriously unencrypted, but the company started shipping an encrypted version last month.
Compared to Square, PayPal Here has a bunch more features. If you don’t have your reader, you can snap a photo of a card to accept it. It tracks cash and check payments as well as cards, and has a feature for issuing invoices. PayPal charges a slightly lower transaction fee — a flat 2.7% vs. Square’s 2.75% — and plays up its debit card, with a 1% cashback feature that reduces the effective fee to 1.7%.