Mar 12 2012
In 2010 Square introduced, and I do not use this word lightly, a gamechanger. Download their app, sign up, and plug in in the little card reader they send you for free. You can now accept credit cards anywhere from anyone.
The app itself is pretty minimal. You type in a price and a description, swipe a card and let the customer sign with their finger. Square keeps a record of the transaction, takes a 2.75% cut for their trouble (less for non-profits), and deposits to your bank the next day.
Selling flowers at a Farmer’s Market? Done. Tutoring around town? Swipety-swipe-swipe. I was introduced to Square last year through a friend’s community theatre company. The plays they produce are free to attend, so they use Square to sell concessions and take donations from the lawn of an historic home. Square has really opened up the possibilities for small companies and freelancers in an increasingly cashless society.
Square was satisfied with this for about a year before they released another – yes I’m going to say it – gamechanger. Square Register combines the original square app with the ability to add and manage products as well as get detailed analytics about each transaction. Customers can then create their order, add a tip if they like, and get their receipt all from an iPad screen.
How amazing is that?! The answer is “Very.”
Square is an integral part of the larger trend of making powerful business tools available to small businesses or individuals who have no budget for large fees or setup costs. Don’t want to buy Microsoft Office? Use Google Docs. Need help collecting startup capitol? Use a site like Kickstarter. And now, accept credit card payments from anywhere with Square. The market is opening up to anyone brave enough to get into it.
UPDATE: PayPal has released their Square competitor, PayPal Here. It is very slightly cheaper with a 2.7% cut instead of Square’s 2.75. It also lets you add products on the iPhone version, which Square doesn’t support yet. That being said, you have to deal with PayPal, who are infamous for freezing accounts. No thanks!