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Square's chip credit card readers just got 14% faster

Ethan Wolff-Mann
Senior Writer
Chip readers from Square just got faster thanks to a firmware update. Source: Square

Banks and credit card issuers decided to phase out the all-American credit card swipe in 2015, and since then consumers have not been happy. Though more secure, the longer processing times of its replacement, the chip card, have prolonged wait times on store lines and given consumers yet another reason to take their business to Amazon (AMZN).

As one person wrote on Twitter, “EMV chip cards take longer to process at the point of sale than my mile long receipt takes to print at CVS.”

On Friday, financial payments firm Square (SQ) rolled out a firmware update to its half-a-million chip payment terminals, bringing the payment speed down to 3.6 seconds from 4.2 seconds for chip and contactless cards.

A savings of 0.6 seconds may not seem like much, and it’s not—to a single customer. But it represents 14% reduction in overall time.

“Every extra millisecond consumers have to wait to pay is bad. These seconds we’ve chipped away matter a lot to both the customer and business owner handling hundreds of transactions a day,” Square spokesperson Edie Campbell-Urban told Yahoo Finance.

Applied across the board to many customers, this means shorter lines and a higher ceiling of transactions per hour. For a small business (Square is primarily used by small retail businesses) without a lot of staff during a rush, this could make all the difference, as famously illustrated by the swipe vs. cash Visa commercial below.

All this, of course, may be temporary, as mobile payments loom large. However, not much progress has been made to pry credit cards from people’s hands as mobile pay adoption seems to have leveled off considerably. According to surveys from PYMNTS, only 22% of people with iPhones had ever tried Apple Pay as of this month, 10% of eligible Android users had tried Android pay, and 15% of Samsung phone owners had tried Samsung pay. Last year, Apple and Android adoption was at the same level, though Samsung somewhat up from 11%.

Square thinks the public will catch on eventually. “We believe that contactless payments are the future and we’ve seen progress on this front,” said Campbell-Urban. “In the interim we’re making chip-card speeds faster because we want to help keep our sellers’ lines moving as they offer their customers quality experiences.

Ethan Wolff-Mann is a writer at Yahoo Finance focusing on consumer issues, tech, and personal finance. Follow him on Twitter @ewolffmann. Got a tip? Send it to tips@yahoo-inc.com.

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