Square is Very Cool and Super Useful

You’ve probably heard about Square (@square) by now. I mentioned it last week apropos of Alex Payne’s (@al3x) departure from Twitter; Square is the brainchild of Jack Dorsey (@jack), one of Twitter’s cofounders.

Some of the Square team was at Google IO (@googleio) last week, and I had a chance to chat with them and get my hands on one of their card readers, which I believe are currently back-ordered.

Square is a portable device that allows you to accept payments from your mobile phone, plus they handle charging the credit card and getting you paid. Not everyone has this use case, but if you do, it’s a great little device and an awesome service.

Not only does Square allow you to carry what amounts to a POS terminal with you, their service fees are very reasonable. They take 2.75% + $0.15 for swiped cards, and 3.5% + $0.15 for hand-entered cards.

There are per transaction and weekly limits too, but this keeps Square aimed at their target customers.

Square is great for tiny businesses, like food carts or personal services (tutoring, on-site support) or charities, that either can’t afford a POS terminal or move around a lot, making one impossible.

I can see it being really useful for ad hoc payments from friends, e.g. someone lost a bet or owes you money. That sort of thing.

I’m also in awe of how the card reader takes the card data off the magnetic strip and interprets it into sound that can be understood by the app.

Very cool stuff. Anyway, if anyone wants to pay me, I’m happy to test it out live for you. I’ll even take a video and post it here.

Any takers? Find the comments.



AboutJake

a.k.a.:jkuramot

8 comments

  1. ok this is very cool especially for those of us helping out small non-profits. love how you find and alert us to this stuff… I think there are a ton of possibilities here. wish that % were a bit lower but the functionality and no monthly fee makes up for it. need to check this out.

  2. Glad I could help. I heard the Square guys say they were operating at cost, which sounds about right, since they're just starting. The POS terminal game is going to be tough one to crack, but I hope they do well. It's an area in need of some innovation.

  3. what feels like 100 years ago, i could have used this…maybe. i tried to start a gift cards for taxis thing (college town, drunk kids, worried parents) and one of the biggest stumbling blocks was the cost of the mobile POS systems. i looked into the add-on devices for cell phones, but those still needed a merchant account and all the BS that goes along with it. i'd love to think that i was just ahead of my time…alas, i wish square had been around in '04

  4. How do I get my receipt? I assume there is no printed receipt.
    Would be cool if I get an electronic receipt that I can send in to my expense department instead of getting a tiny bit of paper, which I always misplace and then have to find it, scan it and mail to expenses.

  5. The receipt can be emailed or sent to a phone. Electronic receipts are another area for innovation. Imagine if your credit card were tied to email, which it probably is already, and the merchant vendors automatically sent you email for purchases. You could have the option to get a paper copy too.

    Someone has to do this already, right? Seems so obvious.

  6. So the taxi driver would carry one? Don't most cabs have mobile POS terminals? I know they hate to take cards. You'd quickly exceed Square's limits, but it would be much more efficient.

    The Square device is very cool and has awesome tech inside it, but you mention the biggest feature of Square, no merchant account. That's huge.

  7. The receipt can be emailed or sent to a phone. Electronic receipts are another area for innovation. Imagine if your credit card were tied to email, which it probably is already, and the merchant vendors automatically sent you email for purchases. You could have the option to get a paper copy too.

    Someone has to do this already, right? Seems so obvious.

  8. So the taxi driver would carry one? Don't most cabs have mobile POS terminals? I know they hate to take cards. You'd quickly exceed Square's limits, but it would be much more efficient.

    The Square device is very cool and has awesome tech inside it, but you mention the biggest feature of Square, no merchant account. That's huge.

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