Friday, December 10, 2010

Square: The little card reader than can!

Almost a month ago, my friend and manicurist, Mandy (over at Mane Event in Gravenstein Station, she's fabulous at what she does, highly recommend her) had a couple new flyers up at her station, advertising gift certificates and the fact that she now takes credit cards. I asked her about it, and she asked if I'd ever heard about Square.
Shirt at
Square? What was she babbling about?

She pulled out this little white cube and plugged it into her Droid and told me how this tiny box allowed her to take credit and debit cards at a lower rate than most banks (only 2.75%+15¢ per swipe), that they sent her the reader for free, and all you needed was a smart phone with an audio jack.
Courtesy of Square Up
She had my attention.  I had wanted to accept cards for a while, but had never gotten on the salon machine.  This hadn't been a big problem, but I did feel like not taking cards held me back from reaching as many people as possible.  I went home and looked up their website and started exploring.

I found out I'd need either an iPhone or an Android phone (because of the audio jack thing; why more phones don't have them is beyond me.  Come on, Blackberry, get with the program!) or an iPod Touch, 2nd Gen or later.  Basically, you need a 3G or wi-fi connection in order to make it work, obviously.  I knew I could pick up wi-fi from one of my neighbors, so I got an iPod Touch, which I was planning to do anyway.  And while I knew this could revolutionize my business experience, I love that it can also be used by non-business people, too!  Having a garage sale?  Selling your couch?  Babysitting?  Anyone who needs to take money can use Square.

The company is new--less than two years old--and based in San Francisco (with a beautifully light, open space in downtown) and they are "focused on bringing immediacy, transparency, and approachability to the world of payments." Source  If you know me, you know how much I like to "go local", so the fact that I could drive down to the city to pick up my reader rather than having it mailed was a plus for me.  The convenience and integration into my own life and massage practice, not having to pay for bulky equipment, and the sheer compact size pretty much sealed the deal for me.

Using the reader takes a little getting used to because it's so small, and it requires a slow, steady, straight swipe, but with a little practice and finessing, I'm looking forward to having this adorable little cube for years to come.
Jena Vincent of Abundance Massage

In the interest of full disclosure, I am not being compensated to write this blog.  I genuinely like this product and I'm writing this on my own.  Given my enthusiasm for it (and as a function of following Square on Twitter so I caught the call) starting in January I will be part of their Inner Square program to help promote the company and product, for which I will not be monetarily compensated (at least there's been no mention of it.)  I will be able to distribute Squares to interested parties, so if you're local and you want a Square, I'm your girl.  Just make sure you have an iOS or Android phone, download the app, verify and activate your account, and you'll be ready to go with your new reader!  Simple as that.

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