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ShopKeep beats Square to the punch with free Apple Pay hardware

Big-name stores like Wal-Mart and Best Buy may be resisting Apple Pay, but companies that make alternative cash registers are all scrambling to support NFC payments. The latest company to push out new cash register hardware and update its app is ShopKeep, reports Recode.

Merchants who already own point-of-sale system (POS) get new equipment and an app update to support Apple Pay and other forms of NFC payments, as well as secure Chip and PIN (aka EMV) cards, for just $250. Meanwhile, the NFC reader is free to all new merchants who sign up with ShopKeep. ShopKeep works with an iPad, but can sync up with a number of other accessories, such as printers, cash drawers, credit card readers, barcode scanners, and so on. The company charges merchants $50 a month for each register to manage transactions, inventory, and customer data.

Around 11,000 merchants currently use the system, and although they haven’t been clamoring for hardware that will allow them to support NFC payments, the upgrade will be useful once new legislation all-but mandates merchant support for the more secure EMV cards. In 2015,┬áliability for credit card fraud will fall on any merchant or card issuer who is using outdated and less secure forms of payment. As such, EMV cards will be widely used in the U.S. next year.

Several other alternative cash registers and payment platforms, including First Data, which sells Clover Station and Clover Mobile, as well as Poynt have already moved to offer EMV card readers and NFC payment support. Meanwhile, Square and others are still playing catch up. Square’s $30 NFC and EMV card reader hardware has yet to arrive in merchants’ hands.