Nov 23, 2010

How Square is Redefining Personal Mobile Commerce

How Square is Redefining Personal Mobile Commerce
BY Brett Circe

If you have ever purchased anything at an Apple Store, you understand how nice the experience can be to “checkout” with anyone who swipes your card on their iPhone. You simply swipe the card, “sign” the screen with your finger, and get your receipt via email. That is the definition of Mobile Commerce.

With Square, anyone can accept credit card payments on their mobile device.

Square is a tiny little device that you plug into the headphone jack of your smartphone. Currently is supports iOS (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad) and select Android devices.

First, you download the App to your phone and setup an account. In about two weeks, your receive your free “Square” via postal mail.

There is no setup fee and no monthly fee, Square takes a percent of every transaction just like a traditional merchant banker. But the fees are less with a physical “card swipe” than with simply entering the number on your keypad, and also appear to be less than most merchant bankers too.

To accept a payment, enter the amount in the App. You have the option to enter a note about the purchase, or even take a picture of the item being purchased. Swipe the card, have the user sign the phone and then email the receipt.

The email receipt includes the note as to what was purchased, (and even the digital photo if available) and a map shows where the transaction took place. Very nice.

If you have ever tried to accept a PayPal payment only to find out the other user does not have PayPal, or have ever looked into the costs of setting up a point-of-sale (POS) system or a merchant banker account, you may find that Square is simple, mobile, and affordable.

Like PayPal revolutionized online payments between individuals a decade ago, Square could revlutionize payments between individuals in the coming decade.

PayPal is also moving into mobile commerce with its PayPal Mobile App. It still requires both users to have a PayPal account, but they are coming up with some innovative payment methods like “Bump” to transfer money from phone-to-phone.

In addition to PayPal, there are other players in the market like Intuit GoPayment, PayWare Mobile and InnerFence, all of which have setup and monthly fees. But with it’s simplicity, mobility, and low costs, Square appears to be quite a winner.

If you would like a demo of Square, just give me your credit card next time I see you and I’ll be happy to demo it for you ;)


Other Trends in Mobile Commerce (which may make physical credit cards obsolete someday!):