First Look: Square

Square. It’s a shape. It’s a fundamental part of mathematics. It’s a tool of precision used by carpenters. Soon, I think, it will become synonymous with revolutionizing how regular folks pay each other. 

Square is a small company in San Francisco that is aiming to make payment via credit or debit card simply and easy for individuals and small businesses alike. Let’s face it, if you’ve owned a business and applied for a credit card terminal, it’s an expensive process, you’re bound to monthly fees, and everything is dependent upon your personal credit score.

Square does away with all of that hassle. Most of you already have the primary part of the terminal, too. Square is an app available for iPhones, iPod touches, iPads, and Android phones. Word on the street is apps for more platforms are on the way. You simply download the app, sign up for an account, and Square ships you a tiny plastic square with a slot for swiping cards and a headphone jack to connect to your mobile device. No monthly fees, no credit checks. What does Square get out of it? 15¢ per transaction plus a small percentage (2.75% for swiped cards, 3.5% for manually entered cards). Out of a $25 transaction, you keep $24.22. And a penny of that fee goes to a charity of your choice.

How does this all work? Well, Square has made two videos, one during their testing phase, and the other which appeared today with their official launch. 

One thing I like a lot about Square is the ability to give electronic receipts, and also help track your cash flow on their website. And the ability to tag those transactions with geolocation is very cool. And Square can also track cash transactions, and issue receipts for them, free of charge. Basically, your iPhone, iPod touch, iPad or Android device become your register. Square can also account for tax, tips, and track the frequency of repeat customers, perfect for having a reward program (think buy 9, get the 10th free).

I received a shipment notification this morning that my Square reader is on its way. I’ll report back with a hands on after I receive it.

If you’re interested in Square, go grab the app off iTunes or the Android marketplace and sign up for an account.