Remember when you and a group of friends might head to your favorite bar or restaurant for a night of eating, drinking, and socializing and you would ask the waitress if you could run a tab and pay for everything at the end of the night? You might be asked for a credit card as a guarantee, but instead of ringing up each order individually, you would be able to take care of the tab when you were ready to go.
Running a tab was good for both you and the businesses you frequented--convenient for you since you wouldn't have to keep dipping into your wallet, and also more lucrative for the owner, since you would likely buy more food and drinks along the way. Running a tab almost seems like a quaint practice these days, but there is a company that is taking advantage of smartphone technology to let you pay in a similar fashion at more and more businesses all over the United States.
Launched in mid-2011, Card Case by Square is a mobile payment application now available for consumers running both iOS devices (iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches) and Android operating systems. The premise is fairly simple. Customers download the app and create a Card Case account. Once you log in, the GPS function on your phone identifies local merchants who will accept mobile payments using Card Case. And unlike Google Wallet, the application doesn't require near field communication (NFC) technology.
Here's a little more information for both consumers and merchants planning to investigate this mobile payment application.
Card Case for Consumers: Making Mobile Payments With Your Smart Phone
Here's how to set up your Card Case account and start making mobile payments using just your smart phone (leaving your credit cards at home).
(1) After downloading the app onto your mobile device (visit the App Store or the Android Market), you will need to sign in with an existing Square account or sign-up by tapping the "Create New Account" button. The sign-up process requires just your name, email address, and a password. You will also want to upload a picture of yourself that is fairly up to date, as merchants will see the image on their screen during the transaction.
(2) Now you will need to link a payment card to your account. Tap "Account" and then "Enable Tabs," and enter the card number, expiration date, CVV code and zip code. You may see a temporary $2 authorization on your credit card statement, but keep in mind this is a normal part of the card verification process and the charge will soon be removed. You will also need to create a four-digit PIN for use during large mobile payment transactions.
(3) Once the account is set up, you will see a rendering of a wallet on the smart phone app, with room to add a card for each merchant that you visit. Tap "Explore Places at the bottom of the screen to find nearby merchants ready to accept mobile payments.
(4) When you tap on a merchant's name, a pop-up will give you more information about that business by tapping "Details," or you can get ready to pay by tapping "Enable Tabs." Once you walk inside the business location and you're ready to make a purchase, tap the merchant card and then choose "Open My Tab."
(5) Once you open a tab with a merchant, your payment information is transmitted to the point of sale. When you arrive at the register, simply give the seller your name. They will select your name from their screen, and once your order is totaled they will charge your account. You can even add a tip based on your payment amount. There is also an option allowing you to set merchant's tabs to open automatically when you arrive in close proximity to your favorite businesses.
(6) You will automatically receive a text message once the mobile payment goes through, and you can always go back and review past receipts and payment history for each merchant.
That's about it. Once you have an account and have linked a payment card, just a few taps to your smart phone screen and you'll be in and out with your coffee in no time.
Card Case for Merchants: Accepting Mobile Payments
On the merchant side, there are just a few requirements when getting ready to accept mobile payments. Businesses must use the Square card reader and run the Square Register for iPad application at the point of sale.
Square carries no setup fees, doesn't require a contract, and has no monthly minimums. There's a flat 2.75% assessed on every credit card payment, but the service costs nothing when you don't use it.
And Square works with any US issued and most non-US issued credit, debit, pre-paid, or gift cards with a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover logo. Currently, the mobile payment processor is available just in the 50 United States plus the District of Columbia. It's important to note that anyone activating a Square merchant account must provide a valid Social Security Number.
Accepting and making mobile payments using nothing more than a smart phone and an app is here. Get ready to take advantage.
(Images courtesy of Square)
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