When I'm selling autographed copies of my books at conventions, I use Square to accept payments. Square is simple and reliable; it also offers one of the lowest percentages per transaction on the market, and it works well with Android and iOS.
But there are caveats to using Square (or any mobile payment system): The card swipers aren't always the best designed or the sturdiest, and they don't provide foolproof ways to get the buyer's information into your account. And if you manually enter the card number, your cost per transaction increases. That will soon change.
If you've ever been to a "con" (e.g., Comic Con or Walker Stalker Con), you know how insane the crowds can be. People get in line for a vendor table and want to make a transaction as quickly and conveniently as possible — that's where mobile pay options like Apple Pay and Google Wallet come in. With a quick tap of a phone, the transaction is complete, and the buyer can feel confident that the transaction was done quickly and securely.
Security is another key to the kingdom of mobile transactions. When you're dealing with a very high traffic flow, the last thing you want is for a user to wonder if you are swiping their credit/debit cards for nefarious ends. The ability to offer Apple Pay and Google Wallet completely eliminates that from the equation.
For those that wonder if Square really has the momentum to pull off such a feat, consider that in November 2014, Square logged its one billionth payment. With that in mind, it's a fair assumption that Square is at or near the head of the class for mobile payment systems. So, yes, Square has the momentum to pull this off.
The one caveat to the soon-to-be added support is that your current Square card reader won't accept the mobile payment options — it will, however, continue to accept standard card swipe payments. When Square finally unleashes the mobile-pay aware system, you will need a new card reader that accepts cards using the EMV chip-and-PIN standard.
The US has yet to enjoy the superior EMV chip-and-PIN card standard. Fortunately, banks will be rolling this out in 2015 (most likely starting in Q3 or Q4). That means we won't see this new mobile-pay aware system in the US until the end of the year. That's fine — as long as it does actually happen.
But wait — there's one more issue at play (isn't there always?). I live in a city that has over one million registered citizens, and yet, when I go to purchase something with nearly any merchant, I find the vast majority are not set up for mobile pay. Why can't I use Google Wallet or Apple Pay. Because the stores (large and small) haven't enabled the feature on their card readers.
This means that anyone using Square at the end of 2015 might be ahead of the curve of those using more standard retail payment systems. It also means I can take my vendor table to a local convention and sell my books with more advanced tech than my local Target, Kroger, or Home Depot uses.
More and more small shops and individual vendors such as myself are turning to the likes of Square to accept payments. When Square rolls out this new system, we'll find ourselves with an even more secure payment service that also offers a convenience buyers have never before enjoyed.
I look forward to being able to offer mobile pay from my vendor table. I also know quite a number of other small businesses and contractors who will be thrilled for this new system.
What about you? Is Square and EMV payment in your future?
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.