In the U.S, lucky market traders, beggars and panhandlers can stick a sugarcube-sized dongle into their iPhone’s (or iPad’s) headphone jack and start taking credit cards. Over in Europe, we don’t yet have the Square reader, so our street-folk have had to put up with old-fashioned cash. Until now that is. Thanks to a combination of Apple’s liberal policies governing how dirty you have to be before you’re refused entry to a store, and the newly-stocked Payleven chip’n’PIN machines, tramps and bums all over the EU can now take plastic.
The Payleven machines are a little more complex than Square’s offering, incorporating a chip reader, a Bluetooth connection (to talk to your iPhone) and a numeric keypad for entering PIN numbers. This is down to the fact that people care about credit card security outside of the US – we still have magnetic strips, but in Spain, for instance, you’ll have to show ID if your card doesn’t have a chip.
The machine works with an acceptably decent-looking companion app, has a battery that’ll last for 150 transactions or ten days, whichever comes sooner, and can be recharged via USB. So what are you waiting for, homeless people? Go grab one (just £100 in the UK!), charge it up at your local library and get out on the streets. Imagine the look on your mark’s face when he tries the old “Sorry, mate, I don’t have any cash” line on you, and you whip out the Payleven. Priceless.