I can honestly say my life would be dramatically different without Twitter, so I’m a huge fan of Jack Dorsey. After reading about Square, I am even more impressed with his creativity and innovation as we all watch him raise the bar in social integration once again.
By now, we’ve all heard about it, right? Aside from the Tiger Woods drama, it’s been the hottest topic on the Internet this week. Very simply said, Square is a little plastic piece (that acts as a card reader) which you can attach to your keychain and take with you anywhere.
When you are ready to accept money from anybody for anything, you simply attach it to the headphone jack of your mobile device (iPhone, Droid, etc..) and bam!! – you can instantly accept credit/debit cards for anything. It’s worth mentioning that no data is stored on the device.
I know, sounds incredible, right? To make the deal even sweeter, Jack is hoping to give away these devices for free. The more I read about Square, the more I can think of practical every day uses for this device.
Here is my top 5 list of practical Square applications:
1. I own an outsource IT company in Atlanta. My technicians carry big, bulky credit card machines in their trunks. If a customer wants to pay with a card, they go out to their car, get the machine, find an outlet, make sure the paper is loaded correctly to print the receipt – yeah, it’s a lot of hassle. If he forgets his machine, he writes the information on a piece of paper to bring back to the office. It all seems so antiquated, cumbersome and inefficient. With Square, there would be no need for those machines, he could just swipe the card with his phone and be on his way. What a dream come true!
2. I buy a lot of things locally from Craigslist. I bought a huge wire dog cage last month. It was $200 and the guy told me on the phone that he would not take a check. I had to budget time to stop at the ATM and get cash in order to make that purchase. With the Square device, he would have just been able to swipe my debit card. It would have made the transaction much more convenient for me.
3. What about street vendors and charities? Just this week I tried to buy some used books to benefit a charity, but was unable to because they didn’t take debit cards and I didn’t have any cash with me. What about the woman in downtown Atlanta that weaves and sells her baskets? I bet this device would easily double if not triple her sales since right now she can only accept cash.
There is a mother and two children that come to my house a few times a week, usually in the evenings, carrying homemade tamales that they’ve made. They ask me in Spanish if I would like to buy some. Whether I want them or not, I like to help them, so I scrounge around my house for cash and change to make a purchase. If they had this device, they would be like a traveling restaurant. I know I would buy so many more tamales if I could use my card to make that purchase.
4. I think about all the mobile businesses that come to my house. These include carpet cleaners, pest control people, landscapers, TV repairmen, etc… Most of the time they all hand me an invoice upon completing the work and if I choose to pay with a debit card, they have to call it in to their company. The process takes an extra 15 minutes. It would be so much easier for them and for me if they could just swipe my card into their phone and *poof* all done!
5. What about all the office football and soccer pools that take place at water coolers around the world. Can you imagine losing a bet and having to pay up immediately? Gone are the days when you can slide under the radar by saying, “Hey, I’ll catch you later.” Nope, pull your card out now and pay up!
The possibilities are endless. I can see a need for everyone to have this. I think the entire payment process as we know it is about to change. Just like my grandfather used to say, “I had to walk five miles in the snow to get to school every day,” I can see myself telling my grandchildren, “I remember when I had to carry cash in order to buy some things, and if I didn’t have the cash, then I just went without it.”