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Gadgets & Gizmos

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Square Card Case feature lets you pay with your phone and your name

square_card_case.jpgI've been using my Starbucks Mobile Card for months now and love it. it's so convenient to place your order, wave your phone in front of a sensor and walk away. No credit card to lose, no paper receipt to stuff in my wallet. It's the way things should be at this stage of the game. The only problem is, it only works at Starbucks.

Back in February I told you about Square, a company with device about the size of a Starburst fruit chew that you can use to swipe credit cards using your smartphone or tablet. That system has proven to be very popular with all kinds of small business owners, art show sellers and flea market dealers because it allows them to accept credit cards without having a merchant account. And now, Square is expanding their mobile payment horizons.

Yesterday they announced Card Case, a new feature built into the recently updated Square app. The first time you make a purchase with a credit card at a business using the Square Register for iPad application, the new feature can be enabled. When your card is swiped and your purchase is made you can enter your mobile number to get an SMS message with a link for setting up a tab for that merchant. And if you don't already have the Square app, you'll also get a link for downloading it.

Once you set up a tab with a merchant, all you have to do is walk in with your smartphone, place your order and walk away. The payment is automatic. Merchants can verify a customerʼs identity with a stored profile and photo on Square Register and approve their purchase square_directory.jpgwith just one touch. This is being referred to as "paying with your name." You can use the app to search for nearby merchants and even browse menus and specials. All transactions are stored within your account so there would no more paper receipts to clog up your wallet.

This all sounds great and it's definitely going to be the way of the future for many retail transactions, but I wouldn't expect to see this system being used in all markets anytime soon. Each merchant has to have an iPad and those are still pretty hard to come by. Also, buying an iPad is a significant investment, especially when you realize how few people will likely embrace this system in the beginning. At launch just 50 merchants total in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and St. Louis will be using the Card Case system, with most being in San Francisco and New York.

Businesses interested in offering Card Case can apply online at this link. Currently, only the iOS Square app has been updated with the Card Case feature. An update for the Android version is coming soon.

 

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[Last modified: Monday, May 23, 2011 8:44pm]

    

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