Square Makes iPad a Cash Register

Square announced Monday that it's now offering an application so business owners can turn their iPad into a cash register -- and of course, charge a small fee to the merchants.

The new application for both Android and iOS platforms, called Card Case, charges merchants a flat fee of 2.75 percent per transaction (3.5 percent plus 15 cents if the credit card number is entered manually) and is aimed at small businesses. So far, according to Square, there are 26 merchants using the system in the Bay Area. The company also reports having shipped 500,000 card readers in the last year.

Customers will swipe their credit card in Square readers and then choose to create a tab at their usual hangouts.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Customers can also run a virtual tab at their favorite stores. After swiping a card at any participating shop, a user can link the card to a Square account. From then on, the merchant can accept a payment simply by tapping on the user's photograph from inside the Square software. Receipts are e-mailed to the customer electronically.

The application could do away with cash registers and paper receipts, according to Square chief executive Jack Dorsey. "Today we want to take away all of this clutter, all of the paper, all of the mess, and get rid of the takeout menu, get rid of the loyalty card, get rid of the receipts. . . and replace it with one clean digital card," he said.

Square's biggest competition in this arena is VeriFone, which said in a statement to the New York Times that Square's app will not catch on because people prefer near field communication technology  Both VeriFone and Google are working on the "wave and pay" ability.

We think Square's app could be extremely helpful to small businesses who would otherwise have a sign reading "Cash Only." However, we think that consumers would like more detail about Square's security and privacy policies before handing over such sensitive information.

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