Square's Card Case: Could it replace cash registers?

Square's Card Case: Could it replace cash registers?

Summary: Square recently introduced Card Case, a new app that essentially turns smartphones into digital cash registers at local businesses. Even though it's very new, one has to ask, can this work?

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Square recently introduced Card Case, a new app that essentially turns smartphones into digital cash registers at local businesses. Even though it's very new, one has to ask, can this work?

The idea behind the app seems simple enough: ring up items all on the iPhone's screen, pay with a saved credit card file and a text message receipt is delivered. Until NFC technology is integrated into most  smartphones, apps like this could fill a significant void. Smartphone owners are typically more tech savvy and fond of making the most out of their handhelds. The closest (and probably most successful) app would be the Starbucks app for the iPhone, which is tethered to a gift card account with a credit card on file for automatic refills (of cash, not coffee).

Square's new app includes a directory local restaurants and cafes (I can almost see a daily deal feature here in the future) along with menus and records of digital receipts. So far, that library of locations is limited to five metropolitan areas: San Francisco, New York City, Los Angeles, St. Louis and Washington D.C. - the last two of which only have one location participating a piece. However, Square promises more locations to be posted in the coming weeks.

On one note, I have to agree - paper receipts are wasteful and almost out of place these days. However, they're unavoidable, especially with small purchases at places like the local corner store. Yet it's impossible to see Card Case replacing traditional cash registers. Obviously, not everyone owns an iPhone or Android-based smartphone. Additionally, if there's a problem with the way the app functions, a store employee needs to be there to solve it.

Furthermore, the process for getting Card Case onto a smartphone seems rather backwards. The three-step process requires consumers to visit a participating retailer and buy something first before Card Case can be downloaded.

Despite these qualms, that doesn't mean this app doesn't have a shot at being successful. For frequent visitors of these eateries, it's incredibly useful. It could also just help streamline business in general, especially during rush hours in the morning and lunchtime. Thus, we'll just have to wait and see how many businesses that Square can sign onto the project to make it viable enough.

Topics: Apps, Hardware, iPhone, Smartphones

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18 comments
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  • Not in our lifetime

    too much work for the average retailer over traditional methods (cash register)
    Will Pharaoh
  • RE: Square's Card Case: Could it replace cash registers?

    This is fantastic news for small coffeeshops etc everywhere.. This makes for a very compelling use case. It is now far cheaper than a merchant account or verifone for smaller merchants, especially when you factor in that you get a free POS. FeeFighters made a cool calculator that really shows who it makes sense for.
    http://feefighters.com/square-calculator
    smohnot@...
    • RE: Square's Card Case: Could it replace cash registers?

      @smohnot@... But the vendor still needs a merchant account to handle every initial Card Case "setup" transaction. And that merchant account is required to serve all the customers who don't want to install this app. So where's the savings? Unless you have a very steady customer base and can convince 90% of them to use the app and the remainder to pay cash, a merchant account will always be needed.
      bradhansen@...
      • RE: Square's Card Case: Could it replace cash registers?

        @bradhansen@... If you're not familiar with Square's original product, it's a card swiper that plugs into a smartphone, turning your smartphone into a terminal. No monthly fees! They take out their percentage and deposit directly into your bank with very little setup or verification needed. You can use it on a casual non-business basis as well. I love mine.
        cgarrett
  • RE: Square's Card Case: Could it replace cash registers?

    I think it's a wonderful idea.
    AdonisSMU
    • yes, the paperless office is a great idea that is a long time coming

      @AdonisSMU

      but whether this tech is ready for prime time with a ready customer base remains to be seen.
      i, for one, am not ready to do business over a very unsecure Android wireless connection.
      and i am a generous proponent of the paperless office.
      good luck getting the tangible only crowd that has to keep physical records for the government on board.
      i think pdf copies are fine.
      most businesses do not.
      so, we'll see.

      :)
      .
      wessonjoe
  • RE: Square's Card Case: Could it replace cash registers?

    There's something wrong with this article. It makes it sound like the app is employed by the business to replace a cash register with an iPhone. In reality, it's an app to let customers pay via their phones. There's a world of difference and the title makes no sense in that context.
    jgm@...
  • Cash registers are already on the way out

    Square's new app is a great piece of technology, and shines a very bright light on some innovative work going on right now in Point of Sale.

    Yes, I work for one of those innovative POS start-ups, www.vendhq.com. We've been quietly disrupting the traditional retail POS market for nearly a year now - with it's huge setup and maintenance costs.

    We see Square as a well-heeled, well designed partner (yep, we're working with their API) and can't wait for more cool technology in the mobile payments/ cashless/location/social space, like this. It's all good for retailers and customers alike, even if there's a few tech barriers for the average shop owner to leap through yet.

    Bring it on, I say!
    NickHNZ
    • RE: Square's Card Case: Could it replace cash registers?

      @NickHNZ Go find a rock to hide under!
      Willnott
  • RE: Square's Card Case: Could it replace cash registers?

    my phone is so old that it only does calling and i only plan to update it when it gives up the ghost. all of these new phone type devices are intrusive and this is just another way to track what you spend and where you spend it. i for one will never do business with anyone who refuses to take cash
    abhjr@...
    • RE: Square's Card Case: Could it replace cash registers?

      @ahayward@... I'm with you on this one! Intrusion I do not need - and frankly I see other areas of risk - lapse in security by carelessness, or by smart "entepreneurs" - and also laziness on the part of the owner allowing huge bills to accumulate that may compromise financial stability and even credit rating.... Imagine if a child gets hold of one! (Impossible? Think again, in light of so many recent reports of children taking guns to school! Careless parental supervision at it's heights!)
      Willnott
  • RE: Square's Card Case: Could it replace cash registers?

    I'm with ahayward on this. I don't pay for a SmartPhone or even a data plan of any kind, nor do I intend to anytime soon. All these apps are great, but in today's economy (I personally work 2 part-time jobs that just barely equal 2/3 of my previous salary) the cost of the phone, the data plan, and the associated downloads and apps cost way too much. I don't see cash registers disappearing anytime in the near future.
    sheahasu
  • Fools Are A Dime A Dozen

    According to Square Calculator (feefighters.com):

    (Typ.) Merchant Account Fees:
    $138.13

    (Typ.) Square Account Fees:
    $110.00

    Real Cost of Ownership:
    $138.13
    $110.00
    ========
    $248.13 per month

    Fees --DOUBLE-- Because no retailer in his or her right mind will go "all in" with Square and will need to keep a merchant account for a long, long time to accept payments from those who only use debit cards or do not own smartphones.
    csgallagher@...
  • RE: Square's Card Case: Could it replace cash registers?

    Just about everybody has an "angle" to try & get a bigger portion of our rapidly thinning wallets. I say LEAVE ME ALONE, and let me make my own purchase decisions! Sheesh!
    Willnott
  • Way too high

    Red Herring high tech couched in high usage fees. Normal CC processing fees are 1 to 1.5 percent if you have a good CC guy. Lease or buy a good cash machine or terminal and lay off the crack pipe.
    FarVision
  • RE: Square's Card Case: Could it replace cash registers?

    The idea that you can replace a paper receipt with a text file is insane. The IRS wont go for that, neither will the accounting dept. That is no more proof than saying " Here, look in my wallet, there's $27.00 missing that I spent on office supplies!"
    guywayne
  • Is google competing with square?

    do you think google's announcement today will compete with square's new product? interesting that such news comes so close together. i really doubt that they're competing for the same retailers though...
    http://feefighters.com/blog/deciphering-google-and-squares-announcements/
    startupstella
  • web based cash registers

    Square is a really nice app. However they are not alone in the quest to end the outdated cash register. That said i hope that apps like square finally get retailers and restaurants to embrace the internet and the added value it can bring back to our high streets. Last week i saw a beta launch of Tillify.com. It works like square but lets merchants use their own credit card account and allows for multiple devices to run on one account. It also had a really call consumer id system so that merchants can connect socially to customers using digital receipts. I think this market place is going to be very exciting.

    www.tillify.com
    spideee