Monday Morning Mobile: Mobile Money

*By Thomas Kehlenback
Could cash soon be a thing of the past? Jack Dorsey, CEO of Square and Twitter’s co-founder, would have you believe that cash will soon go the way of the dodo. You probably know Square from its first huge success in mobile commerce; it’s the white plastic credit card reader that plugs into a Smartphone, which has enabled some 2 million small cash-based merchants to accept credit cards. However, as it relates to the future of mobile commerce, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Square’s newly introduced ‘Pay With Square’ and ‘Square Register’ apps are transforming purchase experiences as we speak. Your phone, with minor programming from you to allow your mobile wallet to interact with the predetermined merchant, handles the complete transaction with merchant’s tablet. This eliminates the need for a cash or credit card transaction altogether. A buzz from your phone indicates that the transaction has been completed and you can walk out with your purchase.

Unfortunately this utopia is currently limited to Apple iOS devices and only available at very few places, but with the growth of mobile and consumers becoming more and more comfortable with usages unforeseen just a few years ago, there is no doubt mobile payments will only continue to grow.

Pay With Square and Square Register not only enable transactions to occur via mobile devices, but are giving merchants of any size advantages that previously were only available for retail giants. Square Register provides analytics on customer purchases and allows merchants to offer loyalty deals and discounts like Groupon, but which are highly targeted. Pay With Square, in addition to storing your payment credentials, allows merchants to make available a simple mobile app that provides features such as menus or merchandise, hours, deals or sales and many other. Recently added is the option of making loyalty cards mobile, creating a lot more room for you in your wallet (if that will even be necessary anymore).

The biggest hurdles facing mobile point-of-sale purchases are that they are pricey as it relates to merchant fees and take a commitment from the merchant given the fact that e-wallets are still not main stream. In order for merchants to make this commitment e-wallets need to be mainstream, however they will probably not become mainstream until mobile purchases are widespread; hence a chicken-and-egg dilemma. So we ask the question, which will come first?

More importantly, who will be the first real estate related service provider to start accepting point-of-sale purchases through their smart phones? Will it be the home Inspector, Home Warranty Reps, or countless others? I am willing to bet there are already some tech savvy landscapers out there accepting credit card payments right though their iPhone today.