The iPhone can do many things -- and processing credit card transactions is already one of them, thanks to a veritable host of App Store apps for just that purpose. But have you ever seen a credit card actually swiped into the device?
Gizmodo has turned up a YouTube video with Digg founder Kevin Rose schilling for Square’s forthcoming credit card swiping hardware and accompanying app, a trial of which was first reported in December. Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey is the man behind the service (and Rose himself is an investor), which plans to roll out officially sometime this year.
In addition to making it easier for small business to accept credit cards from virtually anywhere thanks to the hardware dongle, the Square software appears to be a lot more streamlined than the other current offerings as well. Cardholders can sign using the iPhone’s multitouch screen and even receive a receipt via e-mail or the web, complete with a small Google Map indicating where the purchase was made.
Judging from the video below, the process is pretty streamlined, with the possible exception of the hardware dongle itself -- for some inexplicable reason, it uses the audio jack instead of the dock connector. Our guess is that this is designed to circumvent the hefty fees that Apple charges developers who want access to the dock connector, but given the fragile nature of the 1/8-inch plug, we think it won’t be long before somebody snaps the Square dongle off inside the jack. (iPhone case designer Mophie has also announced a credit card reader which they showed off at CES this month, which solves the Square dongle problem by building the reader into the case itself.)
Otherwise, the Square service appears to do what it promises and do it well. The company promises that the service won’t require any contracts or monthly fees (presumably outside of a merchant account?) when it launches this year.