Square is one of the coolest accessories made for the iPhone. It’s a hardware/app combination that, when the hardware bit is plugged into the headphone jack on the iPhone, lets the user accept credit card payments.
Simply swipe the card through the Square device while running the Square iOS app, and your customer’s credit card is charged in moments. Beginning yesterday, the Square Credit Card Reader became available on Apple’s online store, and according to TechCrunch, it will be appearing in Apple retail stores this week; although TechCrunch says it will be the “only payments solution featured in the store,” VeriFone’s PAYware Mobile is already on sale there. (Interestingly, Apple uses a different mobile payments solution with the iPod touch in its retail stores.)
The Square Credit Card Reader comes in black or white and can be used with any fourth generation iPod touch, iPhone 4 or iPad. The device itself is US$9.95, but you get a $10 Square credit when you activate your free Square account. There is no monthly fee for users as Square takes 2.75 percent of every sale and deposits the rest to your checking account on a daily basis. The device will accept any US-issued Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover card. After a transaction is processed, you can simply email the receipt to your customer from the Square app.
I think Square is an awesome example of how devices like the iPhone are empowering people and enabling them to do what would once have been impossible (or at least a lot more cumbersome). Now any individual, not just businesses, can accept credit card payments. This is a boon to people who do things like private consulting on the side for extra cash, as they now have an easy way to accept credit card payments.
This even makes selling expensive items on Craigslist a lot easier. Now you don’t have to rely on cash or being near a computer to complete a PayPal transaction when you sell off your old junk. And who knows, maybe the next time you buy a drink from your neighborhood lemonade stand, the 9-year-old behind the cardboard box will ask you “cash or credit?”