With a new device called Square, businesses can now have their customers make credit card purchases on iPhones or Android devices.
The technology is utilized by people like 25-year-old Levi Anderson, who runs Boyrista, a coffee stand he started two years ago.
“It’s pretty slick,” Anderson said.
The card reader is connected to the phone through the headphone port. To use it, the customer’s credit card is swiped through the card reader, just like any ordinary credit card machine.
After the dollar amount is put in, the customer is handed the phone to ensure its accuracy before signing their signature on the phone’s screen to complete the transaction. They can even have the receipt emailed or texted to their phones.
The card reader and phone app is free when a person signs up, though a 2.57 percent fee for cards swipes and 3.5 percent fee are assessed when card numbers are entered. The money is deposited directly into any bank account the user designates.
Time Magazine named it one of the top 50 Inventions of 2010, while Forbes mentioned it in a Nov. 5, 2010, article titled “Names You Need To Know in 2010.”
Because Square is as portable as the cell phone its attached to it is convenient for nontraditional businesses without offices.
It can allow a purchase to be made wherever the phone has Internet connection even if that’s a road or trail. A contractor can be paid on the spot at the customer’s property rather than wait for a check to arrive in the mail. A self-published author can sell copies of his book anywhere as though he were at the cash register in a brick-and-mortar book store.
Despite worries of online theft, Anderson stated that only two people have expressed concern over the security of using such a device. Besides testing it out on his own cards first to ensure it was reliable, he tells customers that it was created by Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of Twitter.
“It gives it legitimacy,” he said.
According Square’s web site, the application meets PCI Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS) for level one. All transactions are encrypted using VeriSign.
Anderson explained his use of Square “just came about” when he was browsing coffee blogs and inquired about an alternative method for credit card purchases, which at the time cost him $60 a month. One of the blogs recommended Square as an ideal device for small businesses like his.
“Usually, one of the passengers (in the car) say, ‘Are you kidding me? This is so cool,’” he said.
Boyrista is located off of the SE Renton Maple Valley Road by Southeast 218th Street.
More information about Square can be found at its web site at squareup.com. The app currently accepts US issued Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover cards. Square can also be used with iPads.
Anderson’s blog can be found at www.boyrista.blogspot.com.