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Why Squareup won’t work in Europe.

I’ve been reading about Square, the latest new invention by Jack Dorsey, the co-creator of Twitter. You attach a little doohickey to your iphone, install an app and you can start swiping cards. It works by transforming the info into an audio signal that is decrypted by the app and sent to the square servers to do the actual payment.

Great idea, but in Europe (and more particularly, in Belgium) the banks are actively discouraging the swiping of creditcards – you need to notify your bank before leaving for a vacation outside of the european union so you can actually use your card in a foreign country, plus only a terminal that can read the chip and not the strip.

The magnetic stripe on your creditcard is easely duplicated, and as such seen as ‘too easy to defraud’. The chip is more secure.

So my guess is that the doohickey will either need to be adapted to read the chip and not the magnetic stripe, or else it will have a hard time landing in Europe. And I’m not the only one to think this.

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7 replies on “Why Squareup won’t work in Europe.”

Hi – on a trip over from Europe I used my Dutch AMEX at a retailer in Boston. He swiped the card (ie using the strip rather than the chip) and it worked fine.
This would mean that it would work in Europe , right ? I am planning some small business activities , would work great for me.

AFAIK, for now only Maestro is no longer working outside of Europe, and you can ask for exceptions for when you travel. I do think you still need a machine that can read the chip. Banks are reporting that fraud with Maestro has gone down spectacularly.

It seems that AMEX / VISA credit-cards still have the magnetic stripe active, although I’ve found a few articles that seem to indicate this might not stay that way in the future…

Dutch article: remove the magnetic stripe now

Smart cards in europe : your american cards may have problems

Also, using the bank recommended technologies will protect you from fraud. If you read magnetic stripes and process credit cards this way, *YOU* will be liable for any fraud ( think “stolen creditcard you just processed”) and subsequent loss of money, while if you use for example 3DSecure technology (using a card reader and signing the transaction with the creditcard) the bank is responsible for any fraud that may have occurred.

In the end, the magnetic strip will go away, it’s a question “when”.

As a frequent user of services on both sides of the atlantic losing the mag strip would be more than inconvenient but also of course any country in europe but not the european union would also surely have an issue.
Add to that the fact the “chip and pin” and “chip and signature” have the same equal and legal standing, must be handled by merchants in the same way and with the same dignity (as per the contract for card acceptance they sign – note: not “broken chip” merchant takes risk signtaure ones but genuine auto revert to signature use) and the ability of square, mpowa etc. payment solutions to deal effectivly and with equal dignity a solution to those able and less able (disability discrimination is a legal right) comes into question.

I am so sad that I can not use the Square Up in Europe. I just knew I was going to be all ready to go. Had a event and begin to swipe and would you know it? Nothing!! This has really put a damper on my small business. Please hurry up and do something about this. In the past three years I have introduced this product to so many businesses. Now I am the one that can not use it.

You might look into the iZettle system, which is setting up a similar service as to Square Up in Europe, but with a chip-pin card reader integrated.
They are -at the moment that I am writing this, march 2014- live in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, the UK, Germany, Spain, Mexico and Brazil.

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