Square allows anyone, businesses or individuals, to accept credit cards as payments through a tablet or smart phone portal. The company, founded in 2009, now processes tens of billions of dollars in payments a year, according to Square spokeswoman Catherin Ferdon.
Here are four ways that Square is being used by businesses today, both large and small.
Accept Credit Cards Without Paying Credit Card Fees
Revolution Coffee Roasters started selling coffee — both bags of beans to brew and cups to drink — at farmers markets in the Philadelphia area in July, and the company used the Square reader to accept credit cards at those events.
When the small batch coffee roaster opened a cafe in Collingswood, N.J. in March, it decided to continue with Square to process credit cards at its brick-and-mortar location. "The percentage they charge and the absence of heavy monthly fees fit in with what we were doing," says Stephen McFadden, head roaster and shop manager.
Stephen McFadden, shop manager at Revolution Coffee Roasters, uses the Square Stand to ring in a customer at the Collingswood, N.J. café.
Traditional credit card reading systems require signing contracts and then either renting or buying equipment. Then different fees are charged per what card is used, ranging from 1 to 5 percent plus a transaction fee, with Discover and American Express typically taking out a larger chunk than Visa and MasterCard.
Square charges a fixed 2.75 percent fee for each credit card sale, no matter what kind of major credit card is used. Deposits are made into businesses' bank accounts the next day.
The Square Reader, which is a small plastic piece that plugs into a smartphone, is free. In the café, Revolution Roasters uses the $99 Square Stand, which turns an iPad into a point of sale system. The stand physically holds the iPad that's being used as a cash register and also includes the actual card reader.
Businesses also have the option of adding more traditional hardware, including a receipt printer ($219), cash drawer ($229) and bar code scanner ($188).
Receive Instant Analytics of Sales, Customer Spending Habits
Whenever McFadden's having a good day, he'll get a call from his business partner to see what's going on. That's because Revolution Coffee Roasters also uses the Square Register, which offers instant analytics. It's also customizable to his business, with individual keys for different types of coffees along with sizes.
Square has always offered basic analytics, says Ferdon, adding what she describes as "robust reporting and a highly interactive analytics platform" in 2012. That means owners get real-time data about things like what's selling when and how customers are paying for their purchases. Data is then put into charts and graphs form so owners can assess trends and patterns.