November 3, 2011 in Business

App takes payment a step further

With Card Case update, you only have to say name
Nathan Olivarez-Giles Los Angeles Times
 

LOS ANGELES – Square, Jack Dorsey’s mobile payments startup, was founded on the idea that it could simplify the way the world pays for goods and services.

On Wednesday, the San Francisco company took their simplifying of the transaction a step further with an update to its Card Case app.

“We want to make using Card Case so easy that you don’t even have to reach for your phone or take your wallet out of your pocket to buy something,” said Megan Quinn, Square’s director of products, in an interview. “And we’ve done that. Now you can pay just by saying your name.”

So how does that work?

The Card Case app, Square’s take on the mobile wallet concept, currently uses location data to determine where a user is so that person can pay for things using credit or debit cards linked to their Square account. In the past, this meant tapping on a merchant’s iPad or a user’s iPhone to approve a purchase from within the app.

What’s different now is that Square has updated Card Case to recognize when a user is within 100 meters of a business using iOS 5’s new geofencing abilities.

That means that when a user has turned on the “auto open” tabs feature for a business within the Card Case app, a tab for purchases is opened every time they walk into a business without them ever having to open up the app itself.

When it comes time to pay, “you just give the merchant your name and if you’re using the iOS 5 version of the app, your tab will automatically open and on their iPad or computer they’ll just see a photo of you and your name and they simply tap your name and the payment happens in that capacity,” Quinn said.

“It’s similar in spirit to a bar tab, where they’ve already got your card and you tell them your name and they charge it. This requires no new or unusual behavior. You don’t have to wave your phone, load money to anything, tap anything. You just walk in and then say your name to pay.”

More than 800,000 businesses use Square’s small white plastic cube credit and debit card reader, which plugs into the headphone jacks of mobile phones and tablets to perform transactions. The start-up has grown quickly, giving the Square card readers away for free, raising capital from the likes of Visa and adding heavyweights such as former Sun Chief Executive and investor Vinod Khosla and former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers to its board of directors.

Thus far, Square’s card reader and apps have caught on because of the “transparency and simplicity” the company has brought to transactions for businesses, Quinn said.

She said, as always, receipts show up in Card Case from all purchases made with the app.

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