If you're a small business (or a business person) that accepts physical payments and are suffering from under the strain of having to use expensive credit card hardware and software (credit card processing systems), then this next bit of information will excite you to the core!
Square - the developers of the Square Payment System are hoping one day to replace cash registers with iPads that would give electronic receipts to customers and give you, the vendor, access to real-time analytics of your sales.
(According to article,"Square payment system uses iPads as cash registers" by Casey Newton of the San Francisco Chronicle, "Square has already shipped 500,000 card readers and is on pace to process $1 billion in payments this year").
How the "iPad Cash Register" would work is that:
1) Square's free payment software would be available as an app on the iPad. You, the vendor/business person, would then use the iPad and Square's credit/debit card reader at the point of sale (POS).
(Flickr photo on the right, entitled, "My Square by Sagolla", shows Square dongle).
2) When the customer swipes his/her credit or debit card in a reader at a participating shop, the customer's card is linked to a Square account.
From then on, you, the vendor, can accept a payment simply by tapping on the user's photograph from inside the Square software/app.
3) The customer's receipt would then be e-mailed to him/her electronically.
4) Sales data captured by the Square Payment Software/app would then be available for analysis via the software/app.
This way, you the vendor, can capture much more customer data than you would have, had you used a normal point of sale credit card machine.
Square claims that this will build stronger relationships between you, the vendor and your customers, as one digital card would replace the loyalty card.
This digital card would, in the case of restaurants, also eliminate the need to distribute take-out menus, as restaurants would now be able to send these electronically to the customer.
But according to the above article, the pundits who have been watching the demise of mobile payment software market are a bit skeptical of this new software/app.
They say it will suffer the same fate as its mobile payments systems predecessors...a sure death.
Some say that no vendor would leave an expensive iPad at a POS.
Well, guess what? If there is a big and profitable enough market for the iPad Cash Register, I'm sure that Apple would be willing to produce a cheaper, stripped-down version for this purpose.
...Moreover, the Square Payment app can also work on the iPhone, as demonstrated in the inset picture, entitled, "Pay Bike Hugger by Hugger Industries".
[This pic shows Hugger Industries' use of the Square Payment app with the Square dongle (card reader) attached to an iPhone].
The Square Payment Software/app pilot (customer trial to assess how the software will perform in a customer environment), began on Monday, May 23, in San Francisco, California,USA with 26 Bay Area customers.
According to the above article, the vendors in the pilot love the software/app.
I believe that this technological development is something that all small business persons should be watching keenly.
Then contact Square to request pilots in your own stores, cities and countries.
If the pilot results are positive for your store, then buy the software.
...When you have a company that goes to the trouble to understand the pain you're experiencing with a current product offering (expensive credit card processing systems) and is offering you something better (a cheaper system that also provides customer analytics, for less money), jump on it!
(Please be sure to read and understand the terms and conditions of the pilot and be clear about what will happen to your customer data at every step of the way, before you make any commitments,ok? :)).
All the best!..please let us at MOU Blog know how it's going, by commenting below this post, ok? :)
1) Article,"Square payment system uses iPads as cash registers" by Casey Newton, San Francisco, Chronicle, May 24,2011