Squares, squares everywhere. This morning, Square announced that it is making picking up its mobile dongle even easier to snap up now that Walgreens, Staples, and FedEx Office stores will have them in stock. That is more than 20,000 retail locations nationwide. You really have no excuses now.
The San Francisco mobile payment start-up has already done a lot of vamping up of its product since two years ago when you had to request the free dongle be sent to you via mail and was required to make purchases. Now it the device that fits into the audio jack of a iPhone or iPad is just one of the many ways to make mobile transactions from the service.
Users of the Square system can also save payment options in the system so that when they walk into retail locations using Square, they simply use their name and it pulls up their information -- but some prefer the swipe of a card for security and clarity.
Launched in 2010, the Square Card Reader is used by more than one million individuals and businesses and processes payments at an annualized rate of over $5 billion.
Square currently offers Square Card Reader, Square Register, and Pay with Square. Square Card Reader takes minutes to set up and enables anyone to accept payments anytime.
Square has expanded its Card Reader dongle presence, which was already seen in Apple stores, Best Buy, OfficeMax, Radio Shack, Target, UPS, and Wal-Mart.
The Square Card Reader's retail price is $9.95, and users get a $10 rebate upon signup for new users -- so it is quite a deal.
Mobile payments just get hotter
Research came out a week ago from Gartner saying that this year will see more than $171.5 billion in mobile payment transactions. That's a whopping 60% increase on 2011′s $105.9 billion. This means that 212.2 million people (up 32% from 160.5 million in 2011) are using some form of mobile payment service.
And while the technology is out there to offer near-field-communication between smartphones and POS systems, it is Web transactions and SMS services that are making up the bulk of these digital transactions.
I can't imagine what the numbers will look like in the mobile payment world when devices like the iPhone and more Android smartphones start adopting the NFC-chips needed to turn your phone into a wallet.
Gartner sees digital mobile transactions reaching $617 billion by 2016 — but these factors in a slight slowing-down in growth to 42%.
SMS, Gartner research director Sandy Shen notes, is still the primary method used in making payments in developing markets, while in more developed markets, most transactions are made via mobile Internet portals.
Shen also predicts that NFC will be used, but not for payments primarily: “Ticketing, rather than retail payment, will drive NFC transactions,” she says.
Gartner also predicts that merchandise purchases will drive transactions in North America and Western Europe in the years to come. These will include e-commerce purchases where users buy online, as well as in-store purchases. Major e-retailers such as Amazon and eBay have developed strong mobile storefronts and have seen significant growth from the mobile channel.
In developing markets, money transfer and airtime will account for most transaction volume, and money transfers will account for the largest portion of the transaction value because of the demand for secure and efficient ways of storing and transferring money.
It is also worth noting that Africa tops all regions in transaction value throughout the forecast period, benefiting from a higher proportion of money transfer transactions that have higher value per transaction than other use cases.
Square just keeps expanding its services
Just last month, the mobile payment and digital register service made a lot of small businesses smile when it announced that they can access to cash on sales made before 5 p.m. by the next business day. The company’s Chief Operating Officer, Keith Rabois, also told Bloomberg that the company is now processing $5 billion worth of transactions annually. For those keeping track, that is $1 billion more than it was clocking just last month.
This next day payment may not be a big deal for box stores but that sure gives small businesses a huge incentive to use Square over the competition.
This is an especially great option for businesses that have avoided credit transactions altogether because it needed the cash flow to stay alive – and could mean bringing in more business now that it has more payment options for customers.
Everyone wants in on the mobile payment market
The mobile payment/wallet market is heating up quit nicely – with PayPal, Intuit, LevelUp, PayDragon and several other trying to get a competitive edge around Square.
The San Francisco-based startup has forced many financial and mobile businesses to consider their payment services, and word is that the company is out there raising new funding and an awe-inspiring valuation of $4 billion.
If the company hits its goal, and with all the buzz around the mobile payment service I bet it will, it will have quadrupled its worth in a matter of just 10 months.
The three-year-old company founded by Twitter pioneer, Jack Dorsey is changing the whole system of transactions across the nation by providing cardless, and now register less, systems of retail.
Over the last few months, Square has been rolling out new apps, services and deals with millions of individuals, restaurants, and retail locations that want to reduce hardware costs and join the techno-savvy paperless revolution.
Two weeks ago, one report came out shooing that mobile payments could become as common as swiping a credit card by 2020.
Approximately 65% of experts surveyed in the study agreed that mobile payments would take off by 2020, while 33% of experts agreed with a more negative statement, which said that consumers wouldn’t trust mobile payments to replace cash and credit cards by 2020.
I'm sure that PayPal, Square, Google, Visa, LevelUp, PayDragon and others are taking notice of what the buzz is about mobile payment adoption, especially now that users have grown more comfortable shopping and checking their banking information via their pocket-sized computers.
Recent Pew Internet surveys have found that one in 10 Americans have used their cell phone to make a charitable contribution by text message; more than one-third of smartphone owners have used their phones to do online banking services like paying bills or checking a balance; and 46% of apps users have purchased an app using a mobile device. So the comfort is growing with phone transactions, but all of these mobile payment companies that have been making waves over the last few months are hoping that you'll feel fine leaving home with just your phone in the very near future.
Previous research from comScore found that 38% of smartphone owners have used their cell phone to make a purchase of music, e-books, movies, clothing and accessories, and daily deals as well, just as mobile retail continues to grow with vigor.
Your wallet is in danger of becoming as obsolete as the pocket watch. With tech companies zoned in on turning your mobile devices into methods of payment, consumers are going to find a lot more value in keeping their smart phones close -- and merchants are clamoring to pick the services that give them the best competitive edge.