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Jack Dorsey's mobile payments company Square unveils new checkout features

May 23, 2011 | 12:08 pm

Square CEO Jack Dorsey on Saturday cryptically posted a photo on Twitter of a square plate with apples on it.

He was not referring to Apple retail stores selling Square's mobile payments readers.

SquareDorsey on Monday unveiled a new checkout feature for the iPad that helps merchants stay in touch with customers, broadcast deals and track sales and the buying patterns of their customers (something that only big retailers used to be able to do).

Dorsey also showed off the Card Case, shoppers' equivalent of a mobile wallet.

Rather than having to whip out a credit card for every purchase at their favorite haunts, shoppers can buy a cappuccino as easily as they would a song on iTunes by opening a digital tab and paying with just their names. Shoppers can also view menus and track and store digital receipts.

The new app is now available from 50 merchants including flower shops and bakeries in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Washington and Dorsey's hometown of St. Louis.

Square is one of a growing number of companies looking to turn smart phones into digital wallets. It aims to turn cash registers and credit card terminals into "relics of an expensive, complicated and impersonal commercial transaction system," Dorsey said.

Dorsey showed off the new features by beaming a live stream of a news conference at his company's San Francisco headquarters to TechCrunch Disrupt in New York. And disrupt is what he is trying to do.

He's taking on mobile payment systems from Apple, Google, PayPal and others, and at companies such as Foursquare, that help merchants track who their customers are and reward them for their loyalty. And Square is getting noticed: Visa invested an undisclosed amount in the company last month.

Even though Square boasted some big numbers (it has shipped 500,000 Square card readers, tallied 1 million transactions in May and is now ringing up $3 million in mobile payments a day), it is by no means a household name. Few shoppers have even heard of the service.

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-- Jessica Guynn

Photo credit: Jack Dorsey

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