Is your film playing at a film festival? Are you selling DVDs or T-shirts? What if you're a photographer selling prints out of your home? Maybe you're a street artist doing sketches of tourists, or an artist selling paintings or sculptures at a street fair. Hell, you could be mowing lawns for money. Now imagine you had a miniature cash register that takes credit cards, accept signatures, and send receipts automatically, all using the mobile device you're already carrying in your pocket. For filmmakers and other independent creatives, Square is a big deal.
In any of the aforementioned situations, one of the main obstacles to getting paid is, by default, most of us only have the capability to accept cash on the run. This immediately cuts down on potential customers, because not everyone carries cash, so conversion rates are lowered by virtue of a potential customer saying "I don't have the cash on me." If we're selling something that's expensive, even less people carry a lot of cash, so then we're forced to respond, "here's my card, check out my web site." That's not a conversion. 90% of the time we've just lost a customer. But what if we could easily say, "I accept credit cards?"
Here's how Square works. Square is a small gadget (pictured) that plugs into your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or Android device's headphone jack. It allows a customer to swipe their credit card by reading the magnetic strip, transmits the credit card data to your phone using the device's audio input (converting 1s and 0s into bursts of noise), and then authenticates the card using the device's wireless or Wi-Fi signal. It allows customers to sign for their purchase using the device's touchscreen, and then emails them a receipt and enters the transaction into your sales database.
The device itself is (currently) free. You can download the Square app today in Apple's App store or the Android Market. Then you head to Squareup.com, give them your mailing address, and they'll send you the card reader free (Square has reported on Twitter that they're currently backordered on devices, so it might take a bit). Square charges a transaction fee of 2.75% per transaction, plus $0.15 for a credit card swipe, which is competitive, with, say, Paypal's fee structure (and Paypal does a whole lot less for the money, if you ask me). There is no setup fee, transaction fee, monthly fee, etc etc. There are a lot more features worth checking out, but here's a quick demo:
Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBieYjxUj5Q
Square isn't the only kid on the block. PAYware mobile (by VeriFone) and Paypal on the iPhone are two current competitors, with many to follow. But Square's simplicity and fee structure seem to be set up perfectly for independent creatives.
What do you think? Anyone going to sign up?