Yesterday Square unveiled three changes to their mobile payment mini empire.
The biggest change is the addition of a iPad mobile payment application called Register. Register takes full advantage of the iPad's larger screen, and creates a mobile virtual storefront. Products can be displayed on virtual shelves complete with custom graphics, and product descriptions.
Merchants can now sell different product variations with ease as well. More importantly the register app allows merchants to better manage inventory, and run complex google like analytics against their sales (ever use Adsense?). Also, customers can now open a "Tab," at the store using the virtual "Card Case," function on their version of Square's payment app for iOS, and Android (which received a nice cosmetic upgrade).
The "Tab" or virtual credit card appears within their "Card Case" on the customers iDevice or Android phone. Instead of pulling out a credit card, swiping it, and signing, the user can simply "pay with their name," as Square puts it. Once the user sets up a Tab with a merchant, payment is automatic. The tab stays open for about an hour, and within that time frame all the merchant has to do is select the tab that shows up on their iPad, and charge the item to their account. It's basically the same thing as opening a Tab at a bar, except they never need to take your credit card.
The Tab function allows customers to find local shops that support the function (currently there only 50 shops in a limited number of cities), view menus, today's specials and other popular items as well. Also, it stores all of your digital receipts in one easy to find place.
Square seems to have implemented an eloquent and intuitive solution to the mobile payment dilemma for both consumers and merchants and did it without NFC technology. However, it's not all smiles, and streets filled with golden gravy yet. Merchants, and more importantly consumers need to embrace the technology. Square has already shipped 500,000 of their card readers, and currently processes over $1 million in sales a day, and hit the $3 million in a day sales mark for the first time Sunday.
Still, Square needs more than 50 stores in a limited number of cities to embrace the technology.