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iZettle card reader for small traders arrives in the UK

A device that allows small traders to take card payments on their smartphones and tablets is set to arrive in the UK following its success in other countries.

The iZettle is a small card reader developed in Sweden that plugs into iPhones, iPads and Android devices and is aimed at small traders, like plumbers or florists, who can't afford to set up infrastructure for credit card payments. Customers can hand their cards to the trader in question, who will swipe it through the device and ask for a signature.

The device is available today and costs just £20, with the merchant paying a commission of 2.75 per cent per transaction.

Since its launch last year, iZettle is now used by more than 75,000 small businesses and individuals across six countries, according to co-founder Jacob de Geer.

"It's bringing new merchants to the table. My ambition is to democratise card payments," he told journalists at launch in Sweden.

"Whether you are a cabbie, florist, tradesperson or a courier, iZettle gives you the flexibility to operate in both cash and cards. The possibilities are endless because hundreds of thousands of small business can now take plastic. We are very excited about our full commercial launch in the UK and the positive results of our Beta test with 4,000 users over the past six months," he added.

Despite its simplicity and backing by big names such as EE, iZettle is treading treacherous waters with Visa. The device is fairly easy to use with Mastercard and American Express, but Visa seems to have an issue with the "chip" 'n' "signature" security process, with its users being asked to hand over their phone numbers and tap in security details.

Industry insiders put Visa's lacklustre approach to iZettle down to its investment of a similar device, Square, started by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey. Square is making headway in the US market and is now valued at nearly $3 billion (£1.9 billion).

"We're continuing to work with iZettle to develop a fully Visa Europe compliant mobile point of sale solution," said the company in a statement to the BBC.

The iZettle is available at EE stores for £20.