from Business London magazine @BizLondon, March 2014
It happened at least once a week, often more. At the end of a session with osteopath Bradley Dundas, a patient reached for a credit card to pay. And Dundas would apologize because all he could accept was cash or cheque. Then he would give directions to the nearest bank machine.
“I needed an alternative,” Dundas recalls. “People just don’t have cash and cheques with them anymore.” The solution was a Square card reader, and Dundas was first in line to get one when the San Francisco company made them available in Canada in January, 2013.
“It’s a terrific device,” he says. “It’s always worked. There’s never been one glitch. I wanted one in 2012 when I heard about them, but I had to wait until they came to Canada.”
The small reader plugs into the headphone jack of an Android phone or iPhone and reads the credit card swiped through. The information is stored securely with Square – not on the user’s phone. Using a simple app and a secure website, Dundas is credited instantly with the payment, from Visa, MasterCard or American Express.
“They take a small percentage from each transaction, but there are no fees otherwise, no sign-up costs, nothing. They send the reader for free. In fact, when I needed a second reader, they sent it right away too.”
Square was co-founded in 2009 by Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter. Based in San Francisco, it has an office in Waterloo and reported $100-million in processed sales by Canadian users in its first year north of the border. It targets small businesses looking for a simple, affordable way to process credit card payments.
Rainforest Lighthouse is gearing up for the spring season and has outfitted its six London crews with iPhones and Square readers.
“We have six crews, making an average of 10 calls per days,” says David Christopher, a co-owner of the business. “That’s 60 calls and 60 invoices per day. We wanted a solution that was more convenient and helped with cash flow. Plus, we won’t be killing trees.”
Christopher, who also operates Lighthouse Landscape, contacted Square and received an immediate response. “They sent eight readers, for free. Plus, because we are going to be doing a lot of volume, we negotiated a reduced rate.”
Rainforest will pay 2% on its transactions rather Square’s posted rate of 2.75%.
“That’s our only cost,” Christopher says. “That’s less than I was paying to deal with credit card companies directly, and everything is organized in one place.”
Crews can take payments at the door and email or text receipts instantly, using the Square app.
The immediacy of the process is a benefit to any small business owner.
“I keyed in $700 once instead of $70,” Dundas recalls. “The customer noticed, and instead of having to call the credit card company and wait for it to be corrected, I could go online and change it right away.”
Dundas estimates half his payments are now processed using the reader. “And that percentage keeps growing. It’s a great device.”