By Jim Karpen on Wed, 05/15/2013
When Square was first released, it garnered a lot of buzz: it was an extraordinary combination of practicality, cool, and cost-effectiveness. You simply plugged a small square gizmo, which was free, into your iPhone, and used it to swipe credit cards. The best part was that unlike other credit card processing systems, there was no monthly fee. You simply paid 2.75 percent of each transaction, with no other fees. This low cost convenience was ideal for small businesses, and needless to say, Square was widely adopted. And the company has continued to rapidly innovate, bringing out additional components of a point-of-sale system.
This week Square released Square Stand for the iPad. The $299 device is a convenient stand for your iPad that includes an integrated credit card reader. The stand can connect to hardware accessories such as a receipt printer, kitchen printer, cash drawer, and barcode scanner. You can lock your iPad into the stand and secure the stand to your countertop. The stand lets you tilt and rotate your iPad to the most convenient orientation. Note that Square Stand currently only works with an iPad 2 or 3; a version for the 4th-generation iPad with the Lightning connector will be out later this year.
Just to give you an idea how popular this solution is becoming, according to the press release, "Square is now processing over $15 billion in payments on an annualized basis, excluding Starbucks. The company’s recent growth has been fueled by increased adoption by brick-and-mortar merchants, who are using Square as a full point-of-sale system. While Square usage continues to grow on smartphones, it is growing at a faster rate on iPads: iPad customers now represent nearly 50 percent of total payments processed by Square. The average payment volume processed by these customers is more than double the average volume processed by Square customers using smartphones."
In addition to the option of 2.75 percent per swipe, and no monthly fee, Square also offers an option of a monthly flat rate. You pay $275 per month and 0% per swipe. However, that flat rate is capped at $250,000 per month. If you do more than that, you pay 2.75 percent per swipe. Any payments will usually be available in your bank account the next day.
Square also offers a variety of sophisticated tools and analytics, as well as loyalty programs, inventory management, and more. Its Square Wallet app lets people pay for a purchase just by saying their name.