Twitter inventor introduces free card payment system, Square

Twitter creator and former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has introduced a new card payment system named Square.

Square was unveiled last week. The payment system uses a small scanner that plugs into the headset port on mobiles and PCs and allows retailers to read the magnetic stripe information from credit cards. Users make a purchase by swiping the credit or debit card through the reader. Card owners can then use touch screen mobiles such as the iPhone or Android devices to sign for goods. Square creator Dorsey donned the stage at Le Web 09 this morning to confirm that the small card scanner will be made available for free.

The software payment system also offers visual confirmation, allowing users to assign a photo to their profile so vendors can visually confirm the payee's identity. The system will also issue a paperless receipt and allow users to search for their receipts online. Clearly the target for Square is eBay's PayPal system, using the power of popular smart phones and eager retailers the system has the potential to go worldwide. Square also announce it will donate a penny of every transaction a user makes to a cause of their choice.

Square is currently being tested by several retailers as part of a private beta in America but should be available to all in early 2010.

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This is clearly aimed at people who sell stuff.

"Start accepting payment cards immediately with Square. No contracts, monthly fees, or hidden costs. Effortlessly manage all the money you take with an easy and intuitive interface."

There is very much a market for this. The post above about the craft fair is a good use example. If this removes the burden of a Merchant Account and Processor with the associated bevy of devices and the expenses that come with them, I am all for it. And anything to dethrone PayPal is a good thing.

I can already use my iPhone with my Authorize.net account but typing everything in is a PITA.

my wife just set up a merchant account to accept credit card payments at craft fairs -- doesn't want to accept checks from strangers. the company she found has built a free iPhone app that you type the cc info which is then encrypted and transmitted, not saved on the phone. this thing would be faster, since you could just swipe it. other companies we looked into offered portable swipe-type USB devices that you would plug into your computer at the end of a day to upload the encrypted info to the credit card processing company, but they were definitely not free, and you're already paying monthly and transaction fees no matter what company you choose or how you process the transaction. they also couldn't send us a unit in less than 8-14 days, and we needed it very last minute. the setup for the iPhone went very quickly and the app worked great -- she used it for three of her sales.

Surely they could of designed it to read Chip & PIN Cards, and then a keypad appears on-screen to enter your PIN.

Is Chip & PIN widespread in the US, or is it mainly Europe that use it?

No it's not widespread at all here in the US. In fact I wouldn't know what you all were talking about except I was in England this summer and saw these gold chips on credit/debit cards.

Perhaps I've seen the gold chip at one point before, but it's extremely rare. I don't know anybody who has one. Every credit card terminal I've ever seen requires you to swipe.

I thought that the revolution of chip and pin was supposed to do away with that strip, i don't think that this device would be much use in Europe as some banks now issue contactless cards which don't have any visible strips or chips on.

Contactless cards are still far away from being used mainstream. I don't know ANY UK retailer that uses a contactless payment system, and I'm sure its currently being trailed in some parts of London, but outside of the trial, its not widespread. Also, Contactless cards are only used for sales under the value of £10 I think, over that amount and you will need to enter a PIN.

So rail at me if I am way off base but why would you not just put a 2d bar code on the back of your cc and let the phone handle it that way, i.e. goggles? Seems to me like a sticker or a little more ink would be cheaper than a hardware device. And whatever happened to the proximity cards... why a swiping machine and not a proximity one?

this appears to me as a solution looking for a problem. I don't really get the usefulness of this. Certainly any store or small business will still need a cc machine to process orders for those who don't have a mobile phone. Is there a shortage of cc machines?

one scenario would be pizza delivery. the guy who delivers the pizza can process the credit card payment on site. that way you donthave to give out you CC info over the phone.
I would say this applies to any sort of delivery service where the payment can be made on site. As for teh security issue, pretty sure the magnetic stripe contains your CC number and date of expiry which is easily visible if someone wanted to replicate your card. I wouldnt mind using my CC but my debit card would be another story.

^ Good idea, re: the delivery service. With something like this I would use my Credit Card as you get more protection.

Don't we ALL HAND OVER our own credit cards to be swiped on some device? It's not like we have any more guarantees that way. Especially in some resturants when they take the card out of our sight and all they need is to write down all the numbers.


And I thought the information contained in the magnetic strip was not safe at all, hence a lot of countries in Europe are relying on the chip and the PIN at the same time.

So
a) the info that reader can gather from the strip is the same one can type in manually, though if the device is certified I guess that would remove the need to type in the address or the CSC.
b) We're still relying on the decades old magnetic strip. Which is not good..

Julius Caro said,
Don't we ALL HAND OVER our own credit cards to be swiped on some device? It's not like we have any more guarantees that way. Especially in some resturants when they take the card out of our sight and all they need is to write down all the numbers.


And I thought the information contained in the magnetic strip was not safe at all, hence a lot of countries in Europe are relying on the chip and the PIN at the same time.

So
a) the info that reader can gather from the strip is the same one can type in manually, though if the device is certified I guess that would remove the need to type in the address or the CSC.
b) We're still relying on the decades old magnetic strip. Which is not good..


Almost every place in my town we have self swiping terminals now, the days of someone taking yoru card are slowly fading away

I've never been to a restaurant in the UK that takes your card away to process it, they usually come to the table with a handheld device or I go to the till. If the restaurant is taking your card away, its time to find a new restaurant!

I'm not sure if a lot of peope realise this, but most wireless CC payment terminals actually use mobile networks to send the payment details / confirmation etc. over.

The only difference with this, is they're using the iPhone / Android device as the transmitter and the headphone jack as a card reader. Whilst it is highly possible for someone to reverse engineer said software, and read the card data - the worst they can really do is make a copy of your card. But if you have a VISA / MasterCard fraud protection will ensure you get your money back! So in my eyes..... it's not that big of a deal.

I didn't know that magnetic strip still exists? Every card issued in Belgium has this little gold chip thing that's used for every payment...

Every card that carries a PIN Chip also has a magnetic strip on the back. Not all retailers in the UK have Chip and PIN (most large ones do though) yet, and also if the system goes down the card can still be swiped through the till.

It's actually quite an interesting concept. I can really see this taking off now with ebooks, software, games, videos etc being readily accessible over-the-air.

I think the idea is that you (the customer) gets one of these devices and can use it to securely pay for purchases straight from your phone?

The idea, apparently, is for small business owners to use their wireless device as a CC terminal. This makes me wonder if your CC details are stored locally in the device?

With all the paranoia about security, even when some of it is funded, how in the worlds they expect people to swipe their credit cards into somebody else's device?

I would like to know more about this, though.

How can this be free? Is that just the reader device? The service must carry a fee, as the credit card companies charge a fee... More information would be appreciated on this, as it sounds like a cool product / service...

M_Lyons10 said,
How can this be free? Is that just the reader device? The service must carry a fee, as the credit card companies charge a fee... More information would be appreciated on this, as it sounds like a cool product / service...

The device is free, I think, and you use your own credit card processor.

One problem I can see - I don't want my card being swiped on somebody's phone, where I'm guessing that app can be easily spoofed.

bmaher said,
One problem I can see - I don't want my card being swiped on somebody's phone, where I'm guessing that app can be easily spoofed.

There are already devices that do this. It's not really all that uncommon in the service industry... Everything is encrypted (And in fact is required to be by the credit card companies).

I could be wrong, but the way I read this is for swiping your card through your OWN phone to make purchases on it, seeing as its probably easier to do this than to log onto paypal etc. I dont think this would be used in real shops as they all have card payment solutions already.

Also theres a version for your PC for making purchases online.

Quite how it would work plugged into your sound card though is anybody's guess.

...that plugs into the headset port on mobiles and PCs...

Edit: I stand corrected. I've just been reading the Square site. This is indeed for small businesses to accept payments with. I don't know about anybody else but I'm not trusting my credit card to somebody else's iPhone.

Edit: I stand corrected. I've just been reading the Square site. This is indeed for small businesses to accept payments with. I don't know about anybody else but I'm not trusting my credit card to somebody else's iPhone.

I agree, plus who the **** care about twitter and their invention? these are piece of useless ****