Jul 222012

Pay with Square (Photo credit: Jorge Quinteros)

A lot of the things we do today will make our grandchildren burst out laughing.

Yes, we used to drive to a store to rent a movie. Yes, there were huge patches of America where you couldn’t get a cellphone signal. Yes, we used to pay for things with pieces of green paper and plastic rectangles.

And if those squealing rugrats don’t believe us, we can crack open the history book to 2012, the dawn of the twilight of cash and credit cards. That was the year when, for the first time, paying for things in stores required nothing more than saying your name to the cashier.

But first, some history. In 2010, a company called Square invented a credit card reader in the shape of a tiny white plastic square. It pops into the headphone jack of your iPhone, Android phone or tablet. Together with a beautiful, simple app, it lets you swipe people’s credit cards (meaning scan them, not steal them).

Suddenly anyone can accept cards: baby sitters, cabdrivers, farmer’s market vendors, piano teachers, personal trainers, bake salers, carpenters and lawn-mowing teenagers.

Square takes 2.75 percent of each transaction. Unlike traditional credit card arrangements, there are no monthly fees or minimums, setup costs or variable percentages. There aren’t even equipment costs; the headphone-jack reader is free. There truly are no other costs or catches. (My column online has a link to my full review.)

The Square went viral. Today, the company says that two million Americans are happily swiping away.

Where there’s a hit, there’s a copycat, or a whole litter of them. It’s the same idea each time — you get a free plastic attachment for your phone’s headphone jack — with differences only in rates and target markets.

Read more . . .

via New York Times – David Pogue

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