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Square Cash is a deceptively simple new way for consumers to send money using only email and a debit card. Unlike competing payment services, there’s no password to remember, no fees at either end or an account to set up, although you can use an existing Square login should you have one.
Here’s how it works: Open the app, enter a dollar amount on the keypad, tap "Attach to Email," and enter the recipient’s email address. After you hit send, the app’s job is complete – Square replies via email, requesting your debit card number, expiration date, and zip code. The recipient also receives an email heads-up that money is coming, and once he or she accepts payment, funds are deposited directly into the target bank account within one to two business days.
We used Square Cash to send and receive money between a variety of accounts (Chase, Charter One, and GoBank), and in all cases, funds showed up earlier than promised. While it would be great to have immediate deposits like PayPal, Square Cash is faster and far less complicated than online bill payments or "quick pay" services from traditional banks.
Ironically, the mobile app isn’t even necessary for sending money. Square Cash users can create a new email from anywhere, CC email@example.com, and enter a dollar amount in the Subject field to accomplish the same feat. Square claims that the process is hacker and spoof-proof, since transactions require confirmation emails on both ends. For this reason, the mobile app lacks passcode protection, and debit cards can be easily unlinked from any web browser.
There are a couple of caveats, however: Square Cash is strictly for U.S. bank accounts, and only those with Visa or MasterCard debit cards (sorry, Discover Cashback Checking users). And by default, users can send just $250 per week, but that figure can be increased to $2,500 per week by a one-time identity verification process.
The bottom line. Faster than online bill payments and free of pesky fees, Square Cash is a unique method for personal payments that puts traditional banking services to shame.
iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 6.0 or later
Easy payments between U.S. bank accounts in less than 48 hours. No fees. Payments secured via email confirmation. No account or password required.
Only works with Visa or MasterCard debit cards. Payments aren’t immediate like PayPal. Identity verification required for sending more than $250 per week. No in-app history or account settings.