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When Life Gives You Lemons…Break out the Credit Card!
By: Ted Curtin
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Your smartphone has already taken the place of so many devices. It’s a camera, a web browser, a calculator, a calendar, an alarm clock, an address book, a photo album, an MP3 player, it sends and receives email and yes, it still can be used as a phone. But now a little device, appropriately called “Square,” is starting to have a very big impact on the way we spend and accept money.

Just as mobile’s universal accessibility and rich features have brought brands closer to the customer, mobile has now elevated individual consumers closer to brand status. In the same way that social media showed us everyone is now a media source, and traditional media learned that anyone can be a publisher, broadcaster, or entertainment producer, the line between consumers and merchants has started to erode.

You see, with this tiny device called Square that plugs into your smartphone, anyone can now take credit card payments — for anything! Backed by Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey, Square’s goal is to level the transactional playing field and offer a more convenient, more affordable, and super transparent way to pay and accept money.

Making a purchase anywhere from a child’s lemonade stand to a street-corner food cart. Maybe it’s a donation to a local charity or a Little League fundraiser.  You may even find yourself earning miles or racking up cash back just by paying the babysitter. The implications are huge and the opportunities are endless. With no contractual obligations or merchant account requirements, you simply need a smartphone, a reader (free for a limited time from squareup.com and then available for purchase at Best Buy or Radio Shack) and a bank account to accept the payments.

Square Credit Card Reader

You can receive your transaction receipt electronically via email or SMS text. Square merchants get in-depth transaction reports and aggregate purchase data to help them manage their small enterprises, and at 2.75% plus 15 cents per transaction, the cost of accepting credit card payments is super competitive — cheaper than PayPal and most other commercial merchant agreements that also come with cumbersome contracts and additional fees.

From a security standpoint, credit card data is never stored or kept in any database and customers can build a profile that prompts Square merchants with a confirmation photo for validation security. Like other mobile payment options, it’s a lot safer than carrying and paying with cash.

So after you use your credit card to buy that fresh lemonade, keep it out to pay the kids raking your leaves, the dog sitter, and even for that mint condition Beatles’ White Album (yes, vinyl) that you saw at a local garage sale.

 * Lemonade Stand Image: Courtesy of Famzoo.com, a terrific website dedicated to teaching children about managing their money.

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About the Author
Ted Curtin is a recognized strategic marketing leader with over 22 years experience covering online and offline marketing channels. Follow him on Twitter or at TedCurtin.com
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