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How Credit Card Readers Have Changed in the Last Decade

Changes in credit cards over the years have coincided with increased usage of the tools. Recent strides in technology have made it easier for retailers to sell to consumers, while mobile tech means that buyers can get buy without carrying cash on their person. In fact, consumers can now use their credit cards in vending machines and parking meters, which was impossible just a few years ago. Other changes in credit card readers and processing technology include the following.

Mobile Readers

The major difference that most people will note is the ability to process credit cards with mobile devices. Accessories that plug into smartphone and tablets allow even small business owners the ability to accept credit cards from their consumers. Plus, readers like these enable retailers to work wherever they may be. They aren’t tethered to bulky point-of-sale readers or Ethernet cables to connect to the Internet.


Naar-field communication, or NFC, is a type of technology that allows devices including smartphones and credit cards to connect wireless. With NFC, a customer can simply wave their card over a compatible reader to process the transaction. The same technology makes it possible to use phones to pay for purchases without the need for a card at all. Not every credit card or reader uses NFC, but those that do make it a lot easier to pay.

Microchip Readers

The United States might be a bit behind with this movement. In Europe, most credit cards contain chips that credit card readers detect rather than magnetic strips containing information. The credit card is inserted into the terminal, where information is transferred via encryption. Smart card chips are able to change that data, making this method harder to counterfeit, which is one weakness in traditional credit cards that contain the same information on the credit card.

Wireless Processing

Of course, wireless capabilities have changed the landscape when it comes to processing credit cards. Retailers can now send information over Wi-Fi networks, which is convenient. However, this also comes with new potential security issues. Consider when store TJ Maxx was caught sending credit card information over the airwaves without encryption. A hacker was able to access the network, which was unsecured, and view that credit card information. While it’s not directly related to credit card processing, IT security has become more important in recent years.

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