First, let me simply say this: I’m not being paid by Square to post this blog, but damn you might suspect I was by how jazzed I am about this thing. I’ve found that I’ve been telling all my friends about it and encouraging them to get one, so I figure it would be easier just to blog it and point to it. Sure… I’m happy about the fact that I can now personally accept major credit cards for payment on anything by swiping cards on my phone - just as easily as someone handing me a wad full of cash (actually easier in some cases because you can’t hand me cash over the phone). However, being a technology and marketing geek, I also think it’s a great example of how technology solutions should be.
Great technology is seemingly simple, yet trans-formative. Square is just that.
First, for those who are not familiar with Square, here’s a little explanation from their website: Square is the simplest way to accept credit cards (so far I’ve found this statement to be true). It’s easy to use and comes with a free credit card reader for your phone or iPad. Sign-up is quick. No complicated contracts, monthly fees, or merchant account. When you swipe cards with Square there is just one fee: 2.75%. Download the free app from the Android Market or iTunes App Store. Square is currently available in the U.S.
Basically, here’s my experience with this thing thus far: FLAWLESS (keep in mind I said… thus far). You have a smart phone or an iPad? You’re golden. The rest of the components are free: the app + carder reader. Go to Squareup.com and create your account, which is surprisingly simple. So simple in fact, I found myself searching around the site in an effort to make sure I didn’t accidentally skip over something important – “Is that it?”. Yup. Painless. Soon as I signed up, Square put a free card reader in the mail to me. However, technically I didn’t have to wait for the reader since upon downloading the app to my iPhone I could still use it by entering in card numbers manually.
Couldn’t be easier. In a matter of a couple days after signing up, I got my free square card reader – a simple little, square-shaped gadget that plugs into the headphone jack on my iPhone or iPad (I can totally see there being in after market for different versions of this card reader in colors and keychain versions, etc). I opened the package while sitting in my car, lauched the iPhone app and plugged in the reader. As a test, I decided I would sell myself something for $1 (an idea I borrowed from Joe Koufman at Engauge).
Simplicity – only a couple of things to enter: Amount of sale = $1, Description: Test Sale, …then I swiped my credit card… up pops a confirmation window with a space for the “customer” (me in this test case) to accept and sign for the purchase on the touch screen with their finger. Included is an option to send a receipt to the customer vis SMS text message or email. I chose email and done.
Square transacted the sale without a hitch (which was approved for the dollar charge, by the way. Phew!) and immediately sent the vendor a notice (me) and emailed the receipt to the customer, which included a little map with the gps location noted for the location the sale took place. A cool little additional bonus, is the photo verification. As a customer, when I got my handy receipt via email, I could click through to see more infomation about the sale and was offered the opportunity to upload a photo of me to be associated with that credit card number. Now when I just that card with Square vendors, they can see that associated photo of me to verify that the card holder matches the photo. Nice!
By the way, check this out: Square Raises $100 Million, Now Worth More Than $1 Billion