Any business owner will tell you that you that they have to provide multiple ways for their customers to pay. Accepting credit cards can be the key in many cases to getting the sale. Although we've seen a few credit card processing Apps for iOS devices, all the ones I've seen to date require you to setup a merchant account (no big deal) and/or pay monthly fees. It's the monthly fees that have kept me from doing this. I was already paying a monthly fee to Propay to accept credit cards individually and to Paypal (Virtual Terminal) for my non-profit organization. I didn't want to have to incur yet another monthly charge for my very low volume of transactions. Leave it to my non-techie sister to turn me on to this gem. Square allows just about any US based person to accept credit cards on their iOS devices WITHOUT having to pay monthly fees. You download the App, setup your account and you're in business.
How does it work?
First step is to download the App. You can't really do anything without it. Once you download the Square App you can setup your account right in the App itself. You will be asked for some identity verifying questions similar to those that are asked when verifying your credit that only you would know. At that point you're pretty much ready to accept credit cards. Although the App lets you setup an account on the spot, you will still need to log into the website to "finish" the setup process to take full advantage of the service. From the site you can order your Card Reader (FREE) that plugs into your iDevice. You'll also be able to setup which of your bank accounts you want your funds automatically deposited into. Although I was all set and ready to go, I waited for the Card Reader to arrive before testing my first transaction. The Card Swipe thingy arrived within 5 days. You can enter the card data manually, but I wanted the full experience first The App is pretty slick and is Universal for all iOS devices. Authorizations can take place over 3G or a WPA protected WiFi connection. It's fast and easy. Just enter the amount, an optional description and swipe the card. Once the transaction goes through the funds will be deposited into your bank account the next business day (or how ever many days it takes your bank to clear the electronic transfer). Although there are no limits on the number or amount of the transactions, your initial account will be limited to $1,001 per week of transfers. Say you charge $1,500 in a week. Square will deposit $1,001 into your account the next day and the remainder within 30 days. You can request a higher transfer amount if you need one, but you might have to pay a fee for that.
The App Works Great
Although it's a Universal App, you get a few more features on the iPad than you do on the iPhone/iPod touch because of the larger screen real estate. While you can enter the amount, description and even take a photo on the iPhone of the item you're selling, on the iPad you can have predefined items to choose from. For example, I'll be using this for my computer users group. We have 7 levels of membership/renewals that each have a different price. I was able to set each one up and assign it a one-touch graphic on the iPad. This way if I'm processing a "New Member" app I can just tap the New Member Button to add that item to the transaction. That's another thing, on the iPad you can have multiple items on a single transaction and it will add them up for your single charge. Once the charge is authorized the person can sign right on the screen with their finger or a stylus. At this point you can sent an optional receipt via SMS or Email.
A few things I'd like to see
I think it's great that you can email a receipt, but I can't believe that they don't give you the ability to choose an existing contact to email to. You have to manually key in the email address each time. Although the App allows you to enter the card information manually, you have to "sign" at the end of the process. This is fine if the person you're charging is standing there. This doesn't work well for processing mail or phone orders. For those I just wrote "on file" to get past the signature screen. Lastly, the receipts are nicely geotagged (see a sample above and at the end of the post). This is fine for doing business in a public location. However, if I'm processing mail/phone orders from home I don't want my "home" address on the receipts. Luckily you can skip the receipt in those cases. Other than these few things, this App and Service totally rock!
The Bottom Line
If you're an individual or small business and you've wanted to accept credit cards but you don't do enough volume to justify paying a monthly fee, this is your answer. Square will save me about $50/month in fees that I was paying to my other two services. Their transaction fees are reasonable and I love the fact that this turns my iDevice into a credit card terminal for FREE!
Thank you Square for providing this solution for the rest of us
You can download the Square App for Free here from the