Square, the startup that democratized credit-card transactions with its little plastic doohickey which allows any business (or anyone) to accept plastic as a form of payment, is at it again. It’s built a new iPad application called Square Register that’s designed to let brick-and-mortar merchants use Apple’s tablet to ring up sales and run their business, even if they sell thousands of products.
Like the company’s less meaty existing iPad app, Register works both with the Square Card Reader — a card swiper that plugs into the iPad’s headphone jack — and with Card Case, a mobile-wallet app for the iPhone and Android handsets that lets you pay at Square-equipped retailers without even removing your phone from your pocket. (Unlike its perhaps higher-profile competitor Google Wallet, Card Case runs on any phone, not just the handful of Android models with NFC, and lets you pay with any major credit card.)
Oh, and shoppers can also pay with…cash!
Square Register lets a seller enter all its products so the person processing purchases can select them by tapping. It also ties into a new dashboard which lets merchants analyze aggregate information about payments, tax, tips and other items. (Square says it’s similar to the ones that only big-box retailers have had until now.)
Here’s Square’s own brief video demo of its new app:
As before, the app and Square Reader are free; merchants pay a flat 2.75 percent fee per transaction. According to Square, it’s now on track to process $4 billion of sales a year, up from $2 billion in the last quarter of 2011.
I’m not startled to hear that Square is growing so rapidly. At a monthly outdoor antique market I frequent here in the San Francisco Bay Area, it’s striking how many of the very small merchants who do business there are hopping enthusiastically onto the Square bandwagon. In fact on Sunday morning, before the company announced Register, I snapped a photo of a sign at one booth whose proprietor was particularly exuberant about it all:
Square cofounder and CEO Jack Dorsey splits his time between this company and another of his bright ideas, Twitter. Even if Twitter is by far the better-known outfit right now, I’m convinced that Square has at least as much long-term potential to change the world for the better.