An unexpected UPS package arrived on my doorstep this morning (or, more likely, yesterday, and I just didn’t see it). It was from Square, the company that provides smart phone-based credit card processing software/hardware for micro-business people such as me. I wasn’t expecting anything from Square, as the last package I received from them weighed almost nothing: My original credit card reader, which is about the size of a postage stamp (if that stamp were 1/2-inch thick). Well, lo and behold …
I forgot that a few weeks ago, Square invited me to join its “Inner Square.” It was somewhat vague just what that meant, but I was an early adopter of this service, and I figured, “hey, cool, I get to be, like, Square Elite or something,” so I signed up. Turns out, being part of the Inner Square means you’re an ambassador for Square in the world. They sent me this nifty tabletop display, dozens of credit card readers (seriously, I have a TON of these now), and a Square t-shirt (American Apparel, of course). The basic idea? They get their most loyal customers to help earn them more money for almost no cost on Square’s behalf. And while I’d normally feel used by this, in the case of Square, I’m actually … happy to shill for them.
Every time I pull out my Square credit card reader plugged into the headphone jack of my DROID (Square works with any iOS or Android phone), whether at a convention, comic shop or art show, people are always impressed with it, and ask about the service. So I’ve already been doing the sales pitch for Square anyway: I can accept Visa, Mastercard, American Express or Discover. I pay only 2.75 percent per transaction. I pay no maintenance fees, sign no contracts and get my money deposited the next business day. My business bank, Chase, can’t come close to offering such a cheap, portable and secure credit card acceptance system. When I first started using it last year, I thought people would be apprehensive about handing over their credit card to have their data sent over a mobile phone, but much to my surprise, they actually are excited to see it happen. The application lets me capture their signature and email or text a receipt immediately. It’s definitely increased my sales on the spot, especially when people give the usual “oh, I would buy something, but I have no cash” line.
So … I’ll probably be bringing these extra Square credit card readers with me to future public appearances, so that when people ask about it, I can just hand them a reader. If you’re someone who needs to accept credit cards for your sole proprietorship, freelance business, etc., I have nothing but good things to say about Square, and I suggest signing up via their website right now. Or just hit me up next time you see me, and I’ll drop one of their little white game-changers into your hand right away.