Weview Wednesday: Square Wallet

Rowan —  November 14, 2012 — Leave a comment

Square is a company founded by one of the initial Twitter founders and provides a mobile card reader that plugs into an iPhone or Android Smartphone or a tablet. You swipe your card through the reader and your transaction is processed. It’s quick, easy and most importantly cheaper for the merchant.

Today though we’re talking about the second Square product, an app known as the “Square Wallet” to handle mobile money. Essentially you preload your cards into the app and then you can pay for products at certain vendors. On the app, it will display a list of participating merchants/stores who uses the Square Wallet. In store, the merchant would have a similar platform (usually on iPad or Android tablet), who will pick up that you are within range (in store).

The company has recently signed a deal with Starbucks in America to have the Square reader available in all Starbucks stores around the country. You basically order your drink as normal, and let the staff know that you want to pay with Square. Using a username as identification, the barista will conclude the payment and ensure that the transaction is completed through the linking of the system to the Square app wallet on your phone.

The app works in conjunction with the wallet profile, which has to be pre-loaded. Your identification is required at the till (simply a face profile which pops up onto the cashiers screen).

Unfortunately the service isn’t available in South Africa yet but both the reader and the Square Wallet app have huge potential in our country as smartphone penetration continues to grow. There is talk of FNB bringing out a mobile card reader however this remains to be seen. All in all we’d be the first to use this service at our local coffee shop, it’s practical and convenient and solves the issue of forgetting your cards at home.

Pro’s:

  • Portability of the payment system
  • Phone’s rule the world, therefore this adds to their strength
  • Enables wireless payments from a phone (who wouldn’t want this?)
  • It currently supports major credit cards etc in the USA and Canada

Con’s:

  • It is only available to Apple and Android users. That takes a chunk of SA’s market of cellphones, but a large handset player such as Blackberry needs to be brought on board if this technology is to be brought into SA’s market
  • No security other than having the face being displayed as identification or the username being recited. Not password protected
  • It isn’t in SA yet!
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