updated 06:20 pm EST, Tue December 1, 2009
Square unveils mobile pay system
Square today took the covers off of a new mobile payment system that stands to potentially overhaul how customers pay at retail and restaurants. Created by early Twitter pioneer Jack Dorsey, the self-titled service currently uses a scanning dongle that attaches to an iPhone, iPod touch or notebook through the 3.5mm headphone jack. The add-on scans a credit card and processes the payment through an online system without having to use a relatively expensive commercial card reader and service.
Even very small or single-person businesses could therefore take credit cards without the cost overhead that normally comes with maintaining such a system, according to the copmany.
Besides letting stores use much more widely available devices that they may already own, Square also uses Internet components to process and track purchases more intelligently. As with Apple stores, it can e-mail receipts instead of wasting paper; since customers are remembered, the system can help track frequent shopper programs without needing a stamp or punch card. The technology has customers sign for a purchase on an Apple handheld through the touchscreen and provide an optional tip through an on-screen menu.
Socially conscious stores can opt to donate a penny from each transaction to a preferred charity.
Actual service is currently limited to a small number of companies testing the payment process, such as Sightglass Coffee in San Francisco. Wider distribution should take place in 2010. [via ReadWriteWeb]