Square and the Future of Mobile Payments

Mobile Payments
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It’s hard to believe this, but did you know years ago cell phones were only used for making and receiving phone calls? I kid you not, that’s a true story. Mobile technology has certainly come a long way since the day of the Zack Morris style brick cell phone. For many (certainly myself), the cell phone has become an extension of the body. Email, texts, games, music, banking, commerce and beyond: it’s all done right from the comfort of your own phone. In fact, right before I sat down to write this blog, I used my phone to make dinner reservations and to trade insults with my father for fun. You’ve got to love modern technology.

As time goes on, this technology becomes more useful and convenient. One of the more interesting developments in mobile tech in the recent years has been the adoption of mobile payments. We’ve gone from writing checks or IOU’s to paying doctors, small business owners, friends and beyond with one swipe of the card on someone’s phone. When you think about it, it’s amazing.

A little backstory: in addition to my career here at Magic Logix, I also play in a band called Redefine. The band has evolved into a little more than a hobby between stints on indie labels and constant shows and recording. Therefore, over the years we’ve learned to run the band much like one would run a business.  Our merch table has always done quite well, but in the past all transactions were cash. So often, we’d hear people say “if only you guys took cards,” but we didn’t want to deal with the hassle of buying and setting up a credit card machine and the maintenance costs associated with them. So when we first found out about the Square app, we were beyond intrigued. After applying for a card reader and downloading the app, we watched our merch booth sales increase by over 150%. Sure, some people still prefer to pay with cash, but when you’ve got two different people running the square app on their mobile phones, it’s a quick and easy scenario. I can’t stress my enthusiasm about how efficient this setup is.

So as you can imagine, I’m obviously a huge fan of Square’s mobile payment system. I was thrilled back in November when Starbucks announced they were offering the Square Wallet as a payment option in all of their locations. The very idea of this seemed like a perfect match to me: A quick on the go payment utilizing QR codes and mobile phones, with a digital receipt surfacing at the end of the transaction. Quick, easy and efficient – just like the way I like my coffee (I always get odd looks because it’s just black coffee for me, never a “triple venti quad shot skinny complicated order,” but that’s a whole other story).

Taking it to the next level, Starbucks announced yesterday that they would be selling their card reader at all their 7,000 locations for $10. To sweeten the pot, new members get a $10 rebate, which makes the card reader free (this is good to hear, because it was free when I signed up for the app when it first came out as well). This harmonious union between commerce and mobile technology perfectly personifies our on-the-go business culture in the digital age.  Countless meetings take place at Starbucks (it’s a haven for small business owners during the day), so this is a match made in heaven. Think about it: a freelance photographer could show up and pay for coffee utilizing the square wallet mobile payment system, meet a client and then accept payment for their services using the Square register mobile card reader. How awesome is that?

Now granted, Square isn’t the only mobile payment system out there (Chase Bank Mobile Payment and other apps have jumped on the bandwagon), but I honestly feel that Square’s constant ability to stay ahead of the game makes them the industry leader of mobile payments. I’m very excited to see what the future holds for mobile payments and technology. Got a friend who owes you $20? Don’t ever let them tell you they’ll pay you back after they hit up an ATM ever again. We’re in a renaissance period of digital and mobile technology, and it’s just going to get better and better.

Shameless Plug: In addition to the facebook link in the article, you can also follow Redefine on Twitter or listen to their EPs Blur on The Horizon and The Power of Persuasion on iTunes.  

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