Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

Square, Now Processing $4 Billion in Payments a Year, Launches Square Register

Mobile payments start-up Square is introducing a new iPad app it hopes will effectively replace cash registers for small businesses and merchants.

The new app, Square Register, comes with a free, detailed analytics system for business owners, and more integration with Card Case, Square’s consumer-facing app that allows people to pay with their smartphones just by being in the vicinity of a Square-using business.

Square, which utilizes a small plastic dongle that fits into the audio jack of a smartphone or tablet to process credit card payments, first introduced an iPad app last May. In November, the company rolled out Square 2.2 for iPad, iPhone and Android phones, allowing merchants using the technology to offer rewards to customers who make repeat purchases. Square has said it has no plans at this time to launch a version of its app for Android tablets.

The San Francisco-based start-up is now processing $4 billion in payments annually, double the rate it said it was processing in the fourth quarter of last year.

Square’s new iPad app arrives as companies both small and large are racing to develop systems to replace traditional point-of-sale systems — amid plenty of sniping about security, as well.

Last week, online payments giant PayPal rolled out its “offline” point-of-sale system in 2,000 Home Depot stores across the U.S., which will allow customers to pay for items using a PayPal card or mobile phone number and PIN combination. A Visa executive has criticized PayPal’s in-store system, saying that data thieves could easily see a PayPal-paying customer enter their private data at a terminal. PayPal responded by reiterating its commitment to payments innovation, saying a user’s data is more secure in the cloud than it is in their pocket.

Visa, meanwhile, has been working on its own digital wallet service, called V.me.

There’s also Isis, the mobile payments joint venture led by Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile USA, which will compete directly with Google Wallet, the payments app developed by Google for Android phones.

And now some two dozen retailers, including Walmart and Target, are working to develop in-store mobile payments systems that would compete with the current systems available, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. According to the story, the merchants say that they’re concerned about potential security and privacy risks in the existing services.

But unlike some of these services, Square has been focused on small, “mom-and-pop” businesses and contractors, who may not want to invest in bulky credit card systems with higher transaction and interchange fees. In December of last year, the company announced that it has more than one million merchants that can accept credit cards.

On March 1, a proposal to test Square in 30 New York City taxicabs was approved, as the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission explores new technology that could enhance the process and possibly lower credit card transaction fees. The contracts for credit card payments in cabs right now are held by Creative Mobile Technologies, LLC, and VeriFone, Inc. — which has previously alleged that Square has a “serious security flaw.”


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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google