Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey hopes a little square will allow anyone with an iPhone or iPod Touch to accept credit card payments quickly and easily.
Dorsey's new device, Square, is just that: a small plastic square. But the device plugs into a phone's headphone jacks, allowing buyers to swipe their debit or credit cards to make purchases. Buyers then sign for items using the phone's touchscreen and decide if they want a receipt, which is sent via e-mail.
"The basic idea behind Square is that everyone has this little plastic device in their pocket today, which is a payment card, credit card, debit card or pre-paid card, and they're using it everywhere," Dorsey explains. "We found this very interesting and we wanted to turn on the other side of that. We wanted people to very easily and quickly—within 10 seconds—be able to accept these plastic devices as payment."
Square is currently in beta testing at several cafés and small businesses in the San Francisco area, but Dorsey hopes to make the devices accessible to everyone early next year. He even tells reporters he would like to see Square used in everyday life, for instance as a way to pay back a friend. While the devices currently only work with iPhones and iPod Touches, applications for Androids and Blackberries are in the works.
Square could serve as a good payment option for online merchants, Dorsey notes, since it gives them another way to receive payments instantly. Merchants will have to sign up for a Square account to be able to accept payments, but there are no contracts or monthly fees, according to the company's Web site. And the cost of the actual devices will be minimal as well.
"I think we're going to give the Squares away for free because they're pretty cheap for us to make," Dorsey explains.
Payment information is secure because it's sent to a central database, where payments are processed securely, and not stored on phones.
The company will also notify merchants who accept Square payments when a buyer using Square is a repeat customer.
"That 10th cappuccino may be on the house, no paper coffee card required," the company notes.
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Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.