You no longer have to be hip to use Square. Since its debut in early 2010, the electronic mobile payment service has gone from being a geeky gadget utilized by only the most tech savvy individuals set on selling their wares to being implemented by a much wider variety of users. The Square “dongle” or plastic card reader that plugs into the audio jack of any iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad or Android based mobile phones and the Square application are both distributed to customers for free, and the subsequent cost of accepting payment via Square is 2.75% of every transaction.
Considering that Square just recently accepted a $100 million venture investment, it seems like company has big plans to expand their market even further. A usage map appearing in an article on atlantic.com depicts plenty of Square users in every major city across America with many scattered throughout the areas in between.
The author of that Atlantic article, Alexis Madrigal, hunted down a handful of Square users to get their thoughts on the mobile payment product. Here is what he learned from two of them:
‘Kevin Druff, an IT consultant in Richmond, Virginia, said he used Square rarely, but likes it. He tends to use it for personal things, like splitting the food bill when he goes on vacation with family.
Kais Davis of Eugene said he used Square for “rent, settling debts with roommates, poker tournaments, selling collectables, craigslist.”’
As far as big businesses are concerned, the 2.75% cut Square gets out of every plastic-powered transaction may seem a bit steep. Standard POS credit card payment set ups tend to charge a lot in up-front fees but their per-transaction percentage is smaller than what Square takes, although Square representatives claim that conventional credit card processors can come with hidden costs and that its costs are, on average, lower than those of conventional credit card processors.
But big businesses may not exactly be the customer base Square is targeting. By virtue of its mobility and the minimal up-front cost of implementing Square, it makes accepting payment by credit card a viable option for small businesses and individual merchants who were heretofore restricted to being cash-only.