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A credit card reader for your smart phone

by Mary Ann Campbell

Square: A credit card reader for your smart phone

This morning, I was watching the CBS Morning Show when Jack Dorsey, founder and chairman of Twitter, came on. His newest product, Square, is a credit card reader for smart phones. Square will allow babysitters, dog walkers, piano teachers, photographers and instructors -- in short, any small-business operator -- to collect payment electronically at point of service. The sales, taxes, tips, payment location and top customers are all tracked in one place.

They probably named it Square because the reader is a square shape. But it is not square in the stodgy, boring sense. It's exciting for anyone with a small business.

Square is simple and straightforward. The processing cost is low and the equipment is free. You simply download the software and open an account with your bank information, Social Security number and U.S. mailing address. Upon approval, you'll receive a reader in the mail.

Your smart phone must have an Internet connection to authorize each credit card payment. The cost is 2.75 percent plus 15 cents per transaction. That is less than the usual 3 to 3.5 percent charged by most card issuers. There are no contracts, monthly fees or hidden costs.

Getting paid instantly and securely is a boon for all small-business owners. Square meets the Payment Card Industry (PCI) security standards to ensure that your payment transactions are safe. Businesses, services, charities and people in sales can all benefit from using a quicker, cheaper and more efficient technology to get paid.

I was so impressed that I went right to www.SquareUp.com to download the app on my phone. I can't wait to receive my reader and start swiping. Soon I'll be able to manage my sales and receipts at that same site. As with any new gadget I'm sure there will be bugs to work out, but once Square catches on I can see its usage exploding.

Published 10/26/10 (Modified 02/15/11)

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