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Nov 2, 2011

I Want One Of These: Square Card Case

by Freddie Harrison

Remember Square? That smart little payment system that allows you to accept plastic via your iPhone? Well, they’ve done it again. This time they’ve blown the need for NFC-enabled devices out of the water.

Square's Card Case - Smarter than the average app
Square's Card Case - Smarter than the average app

Okay, so this is less of a ‘I want one of those’ and more of a ‘I want a world where everyone uses Square’s stuff’ post, but the former definitely makes for a more catchy title. In short, if you’ve ever walked into a coffee shop, ordered a cappuccino and then followed it up with one of those red faced moments where you sheepishly explain to the barista that you’ve forgot your wallet and havent got any cash on you, then you need Square’s Card Case app.

The idea of paying for something with an app on your phone isn’t exactly a new one, in fact it’s been around for a while now. There’s a few places that’ll even allow you do such a crazy thing…if you’ve got the right phone, that is. You see, paying for stuff with your trusty mobile relies on it being NFC-enabled. NFC stands for Near field communication and basically allows your phone and a receiver to catch a romantic, fleeting glance at each other and nothing more in order to make a payment. Sounds great, right? It is, but it’s not exactly rolled out at any rate of knots. And let’s be honest, if your iPhone isn’t supporting NFC yet, what’s the point?

This is where Square step in and say, “problem solved”, because what they’ve done is taken the need for NFC to make payments right out of the equation. With Square’s Card Case app, all that you need is to be in a store or a shop with the app on your phone. The cashier (who just so happens to be running Square’s merchant app) will automatically see your face and name on their tabs list when you enter the building (so make sure the photo you take is a good’un) and when you go to pay, all you need to say is your name. Cashier taps your name, payment gets processed by square, your bank account gets charged. Boom.

Card Case allows you to get social with sandwich shop
Card Case allows you to get social with sandwich shop

For bonus points though, Square have added some nice social features to Card Case, in case the idea of paying for stuff by name wasn’t cool enough already. Using location services, Card Case can search for merchants who are using Square’s app nearby, you can tap on any one of them to view their details on a map, their menus (if they’re one of those food and drink-type places) and even their Tweets if they happen to be Tweeting. Even better!

There’s only a few caveats with this app though, first of all it’s not available outside of the US yet. Boo. We say yet purely on a wishful thinking basis as well. There’s no word from Square (much like their card payments system) as to when this might roll out internationally. Even if you are in the US, the whole thing relies on the person you’re buying your muffins and juice from to be running Square’s merchant app on their iPad. The take-up so far has been pretty good with this (from what we’ve seen over the pond anyway) so you can only hope that in a few years Square will be taking over the world with their box-shaped, app-y goodness…or something like that.

Caveats and conditions aside, we still reckon this app is damn cool, and if in the US and in the market for an easier way to pay for your lunch, coffee or cuddly toys, then we’d highly recommend downloading the free app from the App Store (it’s also available on those weird Android phones too) and checking it out. If you do, please get in touch with your experiences, we’d love to here how it works in the real world. We’d also like some thanks for showing you a cool app, too…

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    • Lancé

      Sounds fantastic. It’ll probably get to France in time to coincide with the launch of the iPhone 25 :)