Square and Whole Foods announced a deal that will see Square handle payment and checkout at “food venues” within select Whole Foods locations. That would include sandwich counters, juice or coffee bars, pizzerias, or any other type of food establishment within the store. Each of the in-store venues will have an iPad and Square stand where you can swipe your card for immediate checkout. Thus Square users can skip the long checkout lines; indeed those with Square Wallets will be able to pay even more conveniently via mobile. The partnership is Square’s first with a national grocer and represents a big step forward in Square’s trajectory: if it can get into the consciousness of the average shopper, it’s got a very good chance of making itself the mobile payments solution of choice for the foreseeable future.
In what now looks like a direct, competitive move to combat Google’s latest announcements at their I/O conference, Square Cash announced that it’s not just for brick-and-mortar businesses, but for inter-personal cash exchange as well. It’s starting as an invite-only trial, and works essentially the same way as Google Wallet’s email function. What little is known is that the user will have to CC: Square in the email, and the subject line will determine the amount of cash transferred. Right now, the cost os $0.50 per transaction. It remains to be seen which, if any, of these money transfer apps (Simple, Google Wallet, Venmo, PayPal) will take the lead, but the basic social nature of cash exchange is hot again.
Square announced today that, after processing $15 Billion in payments, it would debut Square Stand hardware to select U.S. retailers for $299 as a new way to process point of sales transaction right from the iPad. Square Stand is designed to help local businesses with brock and mortar stores, and Square claims, essentially, to have replaced the cash register with this product. It works with the Reader, a mobile credit card payment hardware device. It has real-time analytics, and it rotates to help make active commerce social; it’s mobile at its core, but it can be bolted to a table or counter to act as a more traditional register as well. At the end of the day, this is the first true hardware that Square can call its own, instead of relying on other, partnered solutions from other companies. Shipping begins on July 8th.
Almost a year ago, Starbucks announced its now-famous partnership with Square Wallet. Starbucks invested $25 million in the startup, and in return Starbucks promised that about 7,000 locations – many in metropolitan areas – would accept payment via the app. The promise was simple: simply tap the app, scan the phone, and walk away from the counter. And indeed, many locations fulfill this promise; but for a company that is so highly focused on customer service, widespread reports of failures after many months of supposed integration come as a blow to the partnership. On many occasions, users ave found the experience of using Square to be awkward, inconsistent, and at worst impossible. Managers and baristas have been found to lack basic training to use the app, even in locations that supposedly support the service. In one instance, a barista even accidentally clicked into a user’s personal messages in an attempt to manually enter the barcode number into the register. Problems might include a lack of wide-spread Square adoption, or an attempt to attempt to fix bugs in real time until the app hits a tipping point and then works seamlessly, much like the original mobile payments app. Starbucks has officially stated that they are “100% committed to Square,” but either way you slice it, any problems with Square integration – whether they’re a result of barista inexperience, technological malfunction, or both – are a knock to Starbucks’ reputation as a customer service-first company, and to the startup itself.
For an example of seamless payment, take a look at Square’s integration with Angie’s List. The consumer review service will now let participating vendors accept payments via Square from within the Angie’s List iOS app. The move signals expansion for Square as many others will likely incorporate the payment technology into their own properties.
Just in time for the Holidays, Square is introducing a virtual gift card that integrates seamlessly with its wallet app. You can search by category to find a local business and then send the gift along with a personal message that’s delivered via email. The receiver then has the gift saved in their mobile wallet. It’s a pretty great user experience and another impressive move in a banner year for Square.
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