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Square gives iPhones, notebooks on-the-spot payment

updated 06:20 pm EST, Tue December 1, 2009

Square unveils mobile pay system

Square today took the covers off of a new mobile payment system that stands to potentially overhaul how customers pay at retail and restaurants. Created by early Twitter pioneer Jack Dorsey, the self-titled service currently uses a scanning dongle that attaches to an iPhone, iPod touch or notebook through the 3.5mm headphone jack. The add-on scans a credit card and processes the payment through an online system without having to use a relatively expensive commercial card reader and service.

Even very small or single-person businesses could therefore take credit cards without the cost overhead that normally comes with maintaining such a system, according to the copmany.

Besides letting stores use much more widely available devices that they may already own, Square also uses Internet components to process and track purchases more intelligently. As with Apple stores, it can e-mail receipts instead of wasting paper; since customers are remembered, the system can help track frequent shopper programs without needing a stamp or punch card. The technology has customers sign for a purchase on an Apple handheld through the touchscreen and provide an optional tip through an on-screen menu.

Socially conscious stores can opt to donate a penny from each transaction to a preferred charity.

Actual service is currently limited to a small number of companies testing the payment process, such as Sightglass Coffee in San Francisco. Wider distribution should take place in 2010. [via ReadWriteWeb]

By Electronista Staff
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  1. dagamer34

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2007



    Very interesting. Hopefully if it becomes more successful, they'll redesign the scanner to be more sturdily attached to the unit like with what Apple has now in it's stores.

  1. jscotta

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jun 2002


    Better dongleā€¦

    I agree with dagamer34. This may work fine (the service is probably more critical than the dongle), but I would have expected the iPhone/iPod touch dongle to attach to the expansion port on the bottom of the phone. I would have also expected a bit more of a guide to make sure the mag stripe is properly passed over the sensor. However, I'll withhold judgement until I can use one.

    This is the kind of peripheral I've been expecting to see for the iPhone family. Now I would love to see a Bluetooth keyboard and a barcode scanner. I think a Bluetooth barcode scanner that talks with the iPhone would be better than one that physically attaches.

  1. ccrider

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Mar 2001



    Why the headphone jack and not the dock connector?

    You can't rock and charge at the same time!!?
    Lame.. ;)

  1. iGlad

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Dec 2009


    Headphone Jack Simple reason

    The reason why they used the headphone jack and not the connector would be cost b/c they'd have to pay Apple extra for using the dock surely.

  1. Roehlstation

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2001


    comment title

    I would be so afraid to snap the thing off in the headphone jack.

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