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There’s hardware for that :-)

About a week ago, I lamented that I could have used a better credit card solution (not my fault THIS time) at ArtWalk 2009 in Livermore, stating no doubt “there’s an app for that!

The beauty of living so close to Silicon Valley is that you just have to think about something really hard for about a week, and a CNET article will come out that describes the invention! :-) (Actually, my brain waves are very good, but not THAT good!)

Enter “Square,” the brainchild of Twitter co-founder and chairman, Jack Dorsey, a new mobile payments venture and hardware add-on that can turn an iPhone into a credit card reader! According to CNET, the details of the project, which is oriented to small business (nice!) have been on the Web for months except that nobody put “two and two together” until some folks at Engadget noticed that a URL on a screenshot of the “Square iPhone Payments Venture” reported by Cool Hunting matches a domain registered to Mr. Dorsey. (Yes, that’s how we think out here.)

The new company is headquartered in New York City with employees in both New York and San Francisco. The Web site will likely be Sightglass Coffee, a new San Francisco coffee shop in which Mr. Dorsey has invested, is one of the businesses on that site and may be involved in testing Square.

Cool Hunting describes Square this way:

“The innovation is in a small, plastic card reader that fits in to the headphone jack of an iPhone (or iPod Touch) and transfers the credit card’s swipe data to the app. After the employee enters the amount to charge, the customer confirms by scrawling their signature with their finger and then either one enters the customer’s email address to send the receipt to. The payment is processed by Square for a small percentage plus a fixed fee; the funds are transferred directly to the store’s bank account, cutting both time and complexity on the processing side. The customer’s receipt includes a map showing the location of the transaction which is handy for those who record, sort and file such things.”

Mr. Dorsey believes that production costs can be kept very low so that Square could be manufactured at perhaps 40 cents apiece. The company could possibly GIVE the devices away for free and make their money on transaction fees. This model is, of course, used successfully for razors and printers, with which the bulk of the money is made on blades and ink, respectively.

In any case, the invention comes “right on time!”

-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo™

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