Square's new Stand turns iPad into a cash register

Internet payment company Square has announced a new accessory that turns your iPad into a high-tech cash register, complete with built-in credit-card swiper and a slew of point-of-sale accessories.

Aimed squarely—if you’ll pardon the pun—at small businesses, the $299 Square Stand allows you to connect an iPad to a secure card-swiping machine; it’s designed to work alongside the company’s free Register app. This, in turn, combines a credit-card-processing facility with a powerful point-of-sale system that can be used to maintain inventory and charge customers, essentially working like a souped-up version of a traditional cash register.

The Stand also features a hub that can be used to connect external accessories to the system, including a receipt printer, cash drawer, and barcode scanner. The current version works with an iPad 2 or a third-generation iPad—later this year, the company will release a version that works with Apple tablets that use the new Lightning connector.

The company’s new hardware is slated for general availability starting the week of July 8, when it will be sold both online from Square as well as at Best Buy stores; pre-orders begin on Tuesday. If you want to see it in action before then, Square says that it will be piloting the Stand at select small business throughout the United States starting May 15.

Launched in 2009 by entrepreneur Jim McKelvey and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, Square has grown rapidly: According to the aforementioned press release, it now processes over $15 billion in annualized payments—and this doesn’t include a deal with coffee giant Starbucks that allows customers to pay using Square’s Wallet app on their iPhone. The new hardware reflects the company’s focus on the iPad, whose users account for nearly half of all transactions, and are currently its fastest-growing segment.

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