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iPhone App for Micropayments

  |   jim's digital lab

Mobile technology has emerged as the fastest growth sector for hardware and software vendors. Since smart phones have become so ubiquitous, we are all walking around with devices in our pockets or clipped to our belts that offer unique opportunities to communicate, consume media of all kinds, search for information, and yes…buy goods and services.

In fact, old style land line telephones have functioned for many years as “terminal devices” to transact purchases. If you go to a gas station and insert a credit card at the pump, that device is linked by phone lines (and occasionally by satellite or Wi-Fi) to a merchant transaction system that reads the credit or debit card’s embedded data and properly charges your card on the spot. In retail, cards are swiped through readers that are linked to online merchant systems…again, to instantly confirm your transaction. Cash ATM machines are also linked to transaction systems and sophisticated databases to ensure that you can conduct business using the ATM’s small screen, keypad and touch screen user interface. These used to be connected by secure phone lines…increasingly today they are connected through the Internet.

iPhone or Android Phone as a “Card Swipe?”

The short answer is “yes!” The company behind this is called Square, and it has hit on an opportunity to use the power and go-anywhere nature of your Smart Phone and the secure connectivity with back-end transaction systems to accept payments using your Smart Phone. You can learn more about using Square by clicking here to read a short story in Fast Company magazine. And, if you don’t mind a melodramatic “infomercial” from Square that is currently making the rounds on YouTube, you can watch a short vignette here.

You use a downloadable app from iTunes (or the Android store for your Droid apps), you plug in a small “square” swipe device to the headphone jack and you connect your bank account to the app. These simple steps will allow any GPS-enabled iPhone (or Droid) to handle a credit card transaction. So, the Cart Girl can instantly swipe cards on the course for purchases of snacks, or an Outside Services staffer can book and accept payment for a future round of golf through the online tee booking engine. This can work for F&B payments at the 19th hole as well.

Having been in technology for almost 20 years, I shouldn’t be surprised by how quickly innovative hardware and software designers can transform an elegant platform like the iPhone into a unique product that gives anyone the ability to transact business…both large and small…through the simplicity of your Smart Phone!

Why not check it out and see if there’s a way to use Square in your business.