Square makes it incredibly simple for small businesses owners to accept credit card payments on their mobile phones and iPads. From what I can tell, small business owners absolutely love Square and the service is going viral.
Spin City Cafe is an example of one business I frequent that uses Square. Located in Noe Valley, the San Francisco neighborhood where I grew up and consider home, the cafe takes up a tiny corner of a laundromat. When my wife and I swing by the Spin City Cafe our credit card payments go through an iPad. Maricar Lagura, the owner and barista, doesn’t grumble when we pull out an American Express card for a $3 payment because Square takes a flat 2.75% no matter which card we hand over and there’s no per-transaction fee. By the next morning, she has the cash in her bank. She didn’t have to pay any setup fees or pay a security deposit to get rolling.
As you can see in the above video, her enthusiasm for Square is palpable. She doesn’t have a lot of room to work in, so the iPad and Square solution fit her needs quite nicely.
I didn’t just leave with a couple of cups of coffee on this visit. Maricar wouldn’t let me leave without taking a Square dongle for myself. Square’s apparently supporting this word of mouth campaign by loading loyal users up with extra Square dongles, which are compatible with iOS and Android devices.
Merchants don’t have to buy or lease credit card processing machines or other point-of-sale equipment. There’s almost no learning curve and it’s drop-dead simple. It just works and it’s probably easier to use Square than a cash register. When I recently visited the cafe there was still a cash register on the counter. I imagine it won’t be there the next time I go since Square’s updated its iPad app so that it can count cash.
Square isn’t the fanciest system and isn’t the best fit for everyone. It doesn’t currently support barcode scanning, but I imagine it will in the future so that the system will be more appetizing for businesses with inventories to manage.
Competitors have raised security concerns about Square, especially about how the company doles out credit card reading devices to anyone that’ll take them. While the geeks and bankers are bickering about security and encryption, business owners are raving about Square and spreading the word about how cheap and easy it can be to accept credit cards.
After seeing Square in action at this cafe and several other businesses in San Francisco, I believe that Square will be the default cash register and credit card processing service for small stores and restaurants if it can fend off any ‘me-too’ companies. I’m guessing that Square will continue to develop its iOS and Android apps to a point where they’ll be able to replace many POS systems.