updated 02:20 pm EDT, Mon May 23, 2011
Square Card Case and Register advance mobile cash
Square on Tuesday used its special event to unveil two entirely separate apps with the aim of making traditional cash registers obsolete. Square Register for the iPad is intended to go beyond just handling payments and will track inventory, add specials on-device, archive receipts in a more accessible way. Deep analytical data will also help track habits, such as when people often buy two items together.
A companion app for end users, Card Case for the iPhone and iPod, will help streamline buying for regular visitors as well as give an incentive to nearby shops. Those who have a virtual card within two blocks' distance of a store can signal their intent to pay from the card and even use a voice command instead of having to enter data. Location data, photo ID, and a requirement for a PIN on purchases over $50 helps prevent someone from hijacking an account.
Shopkeepers can also use proximity to their own advantage, Square said: they can see those with the Card Case app within the same radius and offer a discount.
Square Register is active today for some stores in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Washington, DC. Card Case is rare in existing on the App Store but being available only to those who've been given a direct link from a participating store. The apps themselves remain free and only incur a 2.75 percent transaction fee. A Square reader is still needed to take payments but is either free or $10 at the Apple Store with a $10 credit towards the first payments.
An updated Square app was also released today. An Android version of Card Case is expected to come, but it's not clear if or when Register gets the same upgrade.
Square was founded in 2009 by Twitter co-creator Jack Dorsey with the goal of taking payment mobile and using the web to handle features that had previously needed expensive, custom systems. As of May, it's now processing $3 million in transactions per day and has pressured traditionalists. Credit and debit card payment leader VeriFone recently took to conducting a smear campaign hoping to scare merchants away in what's been widely interpreted as an admission that Square was luring customers away.