Amazon looks set to take another major step into the world of physical retail following reports that the company is due to release a card reader capable of processing payments via smartphone.
According to leaked documents from US retailer Staples obtained by 9 to 5 Mac, the online giant will unveil its own low-cost point-of-sale (POS) system, Amazon Card Reader, within the next few weeks, costing just $9.99.
Staples has apparently instructed its stores not to put up branding or adverts related to the launch until Tuesday 12 August, meaning a launch should occur sometime around that week.
The low price tag would indicate that small businesses will be the initial target markets, similar to the Amazon Marketplace on the company's online site. A POS system linked to Amazon's central database would allow faster payments via a smartphone or tablet, which could link to a shopper's Amazon account or a retailer's page on the online store.
The release would make Amazon the latest in a series of retail companies to move into POS launches, following the likes of Square and PayPal, both of which have launched products in the US.
The Reader may also be optimised to pair with Amazon's Fire tablets, as opposed to several existing POS devices, which link to iPad or Android-powered tablets to process transactions.
It may also be linked to the recent launch of Amazon's own digital wallet app, a beta version of which was released quietly last week, a few days ahead of the company's release of its Fire brand smartphone.
The app allows users to store gift cards and loyalty cards on their mobile device with the details linked to their existing Amazon account.