In a previous post entitled “Tale of Two Ice Skating Videography Businesses”, I mentioned that the twenty-something videographers used a small credit card swiping machine attached to their iPad for their credit card sales at the event. Well, I finally found the name of the device!
It’s called Square https://squareup.com/, and it is one of the hottest startups around.
Square allows you to collect credit card payments through your mobile phone and iPad devices. It has a small square credit card reader that plugs into the 3.5 headphone jack of a smart phone or Ipad.
Square is easy to set up and easy to use. There are also no activation fees or monthly fees
Watch this video to see how Square works:
I have heard a lot of satisfied comments about Square so far. Many merchants, especially the small business owners and those who do trade shows, bazaars and flea markets, are happy with Square. It is a big hit among Etsy sellers who also do a lot of flea market selling.
However, there are a number of things you need to consider
The first thing is your equipment. You need to have a 3G-enabled iPad or smart phones with Wi-Fi access. Your location is also critical. When you are in old buildings are in areas where your phone has a weak signal, you may have a problem getting authorization at the point of sale.
Be prepared as well to some of the reactions of the customers. This is a new gadget, and many have not seen or used this device before. There will be those who will get a kick out of “signing” the transaction using their finger on your touch screen. But there may be those that may question its security (e.g. “What if your phone get stolen, will the thieves have access to their credit card information?”). Per Square, the answer is no as the information is not stored in your device. Read their security policies to help you assuage user fears.
For new users, it is important to note that “Square deposits your first $1000 of sales per week and pays out the remaining sales after we review your account.”
The biggest complaint I’ve seen is the seemingly lack of customer service. There is no phone number listed on the website, and the only means to contact them is to use their online form or send them an email. Some sellers have reported that it takes them about a week to respond, if at all. This is a new company, so they may still be finding their legs.
Competitor Verifone issued an open letter about Square on the potential misuse of the Square devices http://www.sq-skim.com/ and how consumers may be tricked by fake sellers into swiping their credit card information.
If and when you decide to use it, just make sure you’ve got a backup plan. You never know if your phone or iPad starts to malfunction or your wi-fi goes bust or you have no signal in the building.