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Articles: Square Mobile Payment iPhone app rolls live

Square, the startup Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey put together after his glass-blowing compadre missed one too many sales from only taking cash, is officially open for business. If you've ever dealt with the merchant account side of the credit card industry you know why this little service will find quite a home among smaller businesses. We take a look at what the service is, and how you can get Square yourself.

Square is an application which allows for anyone with a smart phone to process credit card payments. Their iPhone app has hit iTunes, (there's also an Android version) and the process for "Getting Square" is surprisingly easy - just create and account at, verify your bank account via microdeposit and Square will ship you a card reader free of charge. Once you've got your card reader and iPhone/Android app you're (literally) in business. Square accepts payment from any U.S. credit card - from Visa to Mastercard, AmEx to Discover.


But what about contracts?

There are no contracts, merchant accounts or monthly fees (to the universal delight of any small business owner looking to the system) and Square charges either 2.75% plus 15 cents per swipe or 3.75% plus 15 cents for any charge with is keyed into the device rather than swiped (e.g. the card is not on site.) Granted, this isn't the lowest going rate for credit card processing, but the combination of flexibility and predictability mean it could be a much more attractive option than the traditional merchant route for many small and micro businesses.



How does it work?

Once you've got a sucker customer ready to pay for something, you simply swipe their card through the card reader and (if the charge is more than $25) hand your device to them to sign (by finger, 'natch). Charges under $25 do not require a signature. Once the customer makes a payment, they can add a tip by percentage or adding to the amount of the charge.

Receipts are delivered electronically to the customer via email or phone number, and the seller never even sees credit card number, email address or phone number of the customer. A refund button is also provided - ensuring you an assuage that last minute buyer remorse.

Once the transaction is complete a buyer can log onto the Square website and see a map of the transaction location, preview their receipt as it will appear on their credit card statement, learn more about the seller and even opt-in to be contacted by the merchant.

There's a great degree of additional functionality on the Square website as well, including a customizable dashboard Sellers can track what's selling through buttons they create, a customer loyalty management utility and the amount a merchant owes to Square, which is reconciled nightly. Transactional information can be exported to a .csv file and imported to accounting software such as TurboTax.

Square is a pretty amazing development in the world of credit cards, and you might want to check out the below video on how it all works. Maybe you'll consider getting Square for your own business.


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