Square to Enable iPhone to Handle Real-World Credit Card Purchases

Square is a new startup that aims to let the iPhone and iPod touch (and eventually other mobile devices) to handle real-world credit card transactions via a small swipe-able accessory plug-in. Founded by the man created by Twitter, Jack Dorsey, TechCrunch scored the video demo above:

It’s a bit hard to see the iPhone’s screen due to the daylight, but you can easily see just how fast Square works for transactions. Simply put, it’s amazing.

Also note how I can sign with my finger on the iPod touch’s screen. And I can request to get a receipt via email, which I enter the first time, but the app will remember every time you come back and use the same credit card.

TechCrunch later posted a copy of what the receipt looks like. Apple Retail, as they point out, has been doing mobile transactions for a while, and are in the midst of switching from their old Windows CE boxes to iPod touch-based EasyPay solutions, but this solution is slick and looks to be well funded.

So, what do you think, is this the future of physical transactions, and do you want it now?

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Square to Enable iPhone to Handle Real-World Credit Card Purchases

23 Comments

As many of us will be reading this on our iPhones, it would be nice if we could watch the video!

Wow. This is REALLY cool. LOL. They had me when he said sign with your fingers. I knew he had to use his finger but I didn't know he was going to ask for him to sign.
But one thing... why is that dongle in the headphone jack and not the 30-pin connector?
I'll probably have to create an email for receipts if I were to use that.

Very slick system. I do like it when I go into the Apple store and that's how I check out. It's a very "casual" checkout process. I also like how it emails the receipt right too you, so as long as the business does not use your email for something else.

@Greg, mine doesn't have the slash, but trying it again now, it times out on the server. May be a YouTube backend issue, they're supposed to send the iPhone H.264 version when they detect the iPhone client.
Sigh.
Hopefully it fixes itself.

"But one thing… why is that dongle in the headphone jack and not the 30-pin connector?"
it makes the swiper compatible with other devices other than the iphone. there's a little mockup of the thing attached to a droid over on the squareup.com site.
it also lets them end run apple licensing, since any peripheral using the 30-pin port for data has to give apple a cut. it's really a brilliant move for squareup to use the audio jack instead, both tho get around apple and to increase future device compatibility.
apple rules that 30-pin connector with an iron fist, which may be why we've seen precious few 30-pin compatible devices for the iphone.

You know what else he should do? Use the camera (on the iPhone and future Touch) to scan bar codes. With that added feature, you got yourself a portable register.

There are already a few different ways to accept credit card payments using your iPhone. In the video he makes it sounds like a revolutionary idea; but it's really not. It's just another app doing what all the others do with the addition of an accessory to swipe the card. It adds a few features but lacks others.
The "sign by finger" is a "nice touch" but I'm not sure if other CC apps have that feature.
There are a couple other features they should add as well.
Many people still want a hard receipt. They should provide a way to print to a shared thermal printer VIA WIFI or even bluetooth. The ability to take and attach pictures of the CC and possibly a photo ID would be a nice touch for "CYA" purposes would be nice.
Of course some way to communicate how their email address will or won't be used would be necessary before I would give it to them.
Over all if he wants it to be "revolutionary" in the "utilizing these plastic devices people keep in their wallets" industry he has allot of work to do in order to make it a unique product.

Hey its ganna be easyer to steal credit card info now yes!!!!!
Also the vid qulity sucks they should of recored with an iphone

This thing suffers from being developed in US and not in Europe or Asia. Signing for things is a thing of the past in Europe, it's all chip and PIN now. Ditto in Asia I believe. I should also be able to pay by iPhone as well as credit/debit card.

"my friends will buy all kinds of things and shet for their fat wives and old ladies i’m telling you, you better belive it."
FUD.
yes, this device creates a small risk for "skimming", but far, far less risk than what happens at millions of restaurants all over the world every day.
in fact, this is much less risky than putting down your credit card to pay the bill and having a waiter or waitress take it out of sight for processing.
the squareup process is actually much safer than many other ways of paying bills with a credit card, since the card remains in sight at all times, and you can observe the person who is running the device.

"Nobody has ever designed the payment process before". Uh, what? Those are the words of an amateur trying to sound like a big business guy. This is slow and clunky for retail, but I see it's niche for freelancers who do on-site services such as photographers, DJs, entertainers, etc.

Oh yeah. I want it now. Fantastic for those of us who do craft fairs, etc. No monthly fees or contracts =awesome ! Droolworthy :)

From what I heard, the things cost about a dime to make, so they might even end up giving them away for free and then just making all their money off merchant's fees.
Practical upshot: YOU TOO can scan credit cards.
Oh, and one of the reasons that the app uses the audio jack is so that it can be used with other devices, not just the iPhone. Theoretically, it should work out of the box (once they write the app) with any device that uses a .25" TRRS headphone jack and that runs an operating system that allows apps to accept audio input. Heck, with the proper headset adapter, the first requirement doesn't even have to be met.

Square could be a cool device, but it is not the only mobile payments solution on the market. There are a number of companies that have been making credit card Apps on the iPhone for most of 2009.
For the last three months I have been using an App called iSwipe. It works well, and it's easy to use. Very good for acceting payments in the field.
http://appninjas.com/iswipe/