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Verizon Wireless(s vz)(s vod) will now start selling Square’s card reader in its retail stores across the country. Though it’s really just a new distribution deal among many, moving closer to carriers puts Square in an ideal spot to target would-be entrepreneurs and small business owners right as they’re making their smartphone purchases.
Starting Thursday, Verizon stores will sell the device for $9.97, plus new users will get a $10 credit to their account, canceling out even that minimal up-front investment. Since Square only charges by the transaction (2.75 percent) and doesn’t require any minimum number of transactions, I can’t imagine it will take a very hard sell to convince a small business customer buying a smartphone to try out the reader.
AT&T(s t) also began selling Square’s card readers last year. In fact, the major carriers have been expanding their retail horizons beyond smartphones and modems. They’re marketing peripheral devices and gadgets that link to handsets, but don’t sport separate cellular connections. In AT&T’s new flagship store in Chicago you can find everything from smart watches to connected health and fitness monitors.
What’s more, Verizon and AT&T appear to have avoided their usual tendency to cash in on devices or services they distribute directly. Instead of trying to sell customers a “Square plan” or attempting to take a piece of each Square transaction, Verizon and AT&T seem content with the data traffic Square and other peripheral device makers drive over their networks.