Talking tech since 2003

Square is a service I absolutely swear by. When I talk to anyone with a small business that accepts credit cards, I recommend Square to them. I’ve used it for everything from collecting rent and utilities payments from a roommate, to selling items on craigslist. You launch the app, type in the amount, and swipe a credit card. If I make the sale before 8 PM EST, the amount charged shows up in my bank account the next morning.

Simply put, it just works. There is no easier way to accept a credit card payment from someone in person. That’s why, for the life of me, I can’t understand why Square doesn’t have a Web app for payment processing.

Payment methods on the Web are a mess. Google Wallet (or Checkout, as it’s still called in some areas of the website) is serviceable, but clunky. And it requires the payer to sign up for a Google Wallet account before they can pay you. PayPal is the undisputed king of online payments, but unless you want a full-blown merchant account, the person paying you will have to sign up for PayPal to pay you with a credit card. Stripe has promise, but it’s built more for developers than the average Joe. And then your other options are companies looking to sell you on a merchant account with monthly charges.

square-swipeSquare succeeded in making a credit card sale a three-step process, possible anywhere you have a Web-connected iOS or Android device. It’s a treat to use, and many small businesses — particularly those who are mobile — do so. But it’s a real problem that you need to use a different service to accept online payments. It throws a wrench into your financial gears, as you’ll likely be charged a different percentage, and perhaps even a per-swipe fee, for an online payment processor than you will for using the Square device. And it’s just inconvenient. It means handing your financial information over to yet another company and having to maintain yet another online account.

And the fact of the matter is, none of these other online payment processors have made accepting payments on the Web as easy has Square has on your smartphone. Square came to be out of a need for disruption in the point-of-sale payment space. Before Square, there were expensive POS terminals from greedy merchant companies and not much else, and these weren’t as portable as your phone. Now it seems like everyone is trying to release some kind of iPhone dongle/app combination that can accept credit cards, but they’re still worlds behind Square in ease of use and reliability.

Square has shown that it can come out of nowhere, enter a payment space, and become a force for change. The Web payments space needs that now more than ever, and I think Square is the right company to make it happen. Imagine the day when you’re able to accept credit card payments through both the Square Reader and a Web-based interface powered by Square. In my opinion, that day can’t come soon enough.

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