I’ve been a very happy user of Square pretty much sense day one. Square broke down the barriers for individuals and small companies to be able to accept credit/debit card payments right on their smartphones and tablets without the typical monthly fees charged by banks. If you never accept a credit card payment, then you never pay a dime. You’re not locked into any kind of monthly fee or commitment. This has been PERFECT for me. I do accept credit card payments for the occasional photoshoot or when a friend owes me money (you know who you are!). The only time I pay is when I actually accept a credit card payment. Square takes a cut (2.75%) off the top of the transaction and deposits the remainder in my checking account the next business day. PayPal jumped on this bandwagon a little too late for me. I always liked PayPal and still do, but by they time they came out with their solution for accepting credit cards (2.5% per transaction) I was already very comfortable with Square. Also with PayPal Here, even though the money (minus the transaction fee) is credited to your PayPal account almost immediately, PayPal can take up to 3 days before the money is in your bank account after you initiate the transfer “manually!”
Amazon enters the market and significantly undercuts the competition!
When you already have two big players in the field, what can you do to make a dent? Significantly lower the price. That’s exactly what Amazon did. They are offering their service at a mere 1.75% per transaction for anyone that opens an account by October 31, 2015. That rate be in effect until 12/31/2015. On January 1, 2016 you would start paying 2.5%, which is still less than Square’s current rate.
How’s the App?
Since this is an App site, the focus will be on the Amazon Local Register App itself. I downloaded the App two days before my card reader (cost $10 with a $10 credit towards your transaction fees) arrived. It’s a free app of course and it’s a universal App for iPhone, iPad an iPod touch. I installed it on my iPhone 5s and iPad Air with no issue. Unfortunately you do need to create a NEW Amazon account. Amazon will not let you log in with your existing account for some odd reason. It was easy enough to do right in the App. The only problem I ran into was that after my account was created I wanted to go ahead and add the bank account info so that when I accept cards the money can be transferred. I started the process and needed to switch apps to 1Password to get my bank account numbers and when I switched back I had to start the process all over again. I wasn’t gone that long and it seems that you can’t leave the process once you start it. So I advice you to have your routing, account number and login info handy before you start.
The app lets you enter in transactions with or without item names. You can also create a library of items that you sell on a regular basis. This is very handy as I have a few different photography packages. There were no real surprises here as it had the basic functions that you would expect from this kind of app. You can also enter your cash transactions as well. The app allows you to enter multiple items at different prices and then charge them all with one total when ready. I love the quick “discount” feature as well. If you want to give a customer a percentage discount, just tap the discount button and key in the percentage and the app will do the math. Once you tap the charge button you can then swipe the card and have your customer digitally sign. You can also accept payments by keying in a card number manually, but you’ll pay 2.75% (still cheaper than Square and PayPal here) for those transactions as they are a bigger risk for fraud.
Room for improvement
One of the things that bugs me about this app is the frequent need to sign in while you’re in the app. I understand the need to confirm your identity when you’re asking for a report such as the My Money report. However, once I sign in and then tap to see other “Reports” I’m asked to sign in again. I just signed in two seconds ago. Why do I need to sign in again?
I ran a test transaction and was given the opportunity to email a receipt. Email receipts are the only option at this point. Square offers receipts via SMS and Email.
Overall the Amazon Local Register app has the features that most people will need, although the Square app has a few more bells and whistles and looks more like a modern “register”. I’m sure the Amazon app will improve over time, but for right now if you’re just looking to save money on fees, the Amazon Local Register app can’t be beat. We’ll see how Square and PayPal Here respond.