A new electronic payment processing company called Square, named after the shape of their credit card reader that plugs into the audio jack of your smartphone, makes it possible for hams to inexpensively accept credit cards at hamfests. They charge a flat 2.75% of the transaction, but there is no per transaction fee, monthly fee, or equipment to buy or rent.
It’s brilliantly simple. Download and install the free app for iPhone, iPad or Android. Attach the reader to the audio jack of your phone. Enter the amount of the transaction on the screen, swipe the card, and have them sign on the touchscreen with their finger. Done. That’s it.
I think it’s a no-brainer. Apparently, so does Visa who made a “strategic investment” in the company just last week.
Here is a video demonstration:
Why is this great news for small-time sellers at ham radio swapmeets? Until now, it’s been prohibitively expensive and somewhat complicated for occasional sellers to setup for credit card processing. Anyone who has tried to price it out knows the drill: statement fees, gateway fees, transaction fees, and on and on. You simply had to do a certain amount of business each and every month to make even having the capability of accepting credit cards worthwhile. With Square, there is no transaction fee or monthly charge of any kind.
Without fail, it seems that I always run out of cash just about the time I spot a great deal on a piece of gear. The seller could accept a personal check, but if we’re talking about a pricey item then that’s a pretty risky proposition. They could use one of those “knuckle buster” card imprinters, but with those there is no real-time authorization and by the time you realize there is a problem a crook could be long gone. With Square, lack of available funds isn’t an issue. You’ll know if there is a problem right away.
Some people might balk at paying $13.75 in fees to sell a $500 radio. Compared to cash, it does cost more. But, think of it this way: accepting credit cards will give you access to a much wider selection of buyers. You’ll likely get a better price for your radio gear making the fee irrelevant.
Sign up for an account on their website and they’ll FedEx you a free credit card reader.
Some reader comments have expressed concern about chargebacks. Here is the relevant info from their website:
How Square protects you from disputes
One part of building any payment service is dealing with cardholder disputes. As with everything else at Square, we strive to make dealing with these as simple as possible and we’ll certainly never charge you for it. Read below for a guide on how this works.
- If one of your customers sees a charge they don’t recognize on their statement, they can call the toll-free number in the payment details that goes straight to us. We have all the information needed to look up the payment and help them get a better idea of what was sold. If we can’t find enough information about the purchase in your account, we’ll reach out to you and ask for more details so we can let your customer know.
- Sometimes, the customer may go straight to their bank before calling the number and dispute the charge. If that happens, we’ll get a letter from the customer’s bank telling us that this payment is in dispute. We will then contact you to gather more information so we can provide the issuing bank as many details as possible to get it resolved successfully.
Some of the information we can provide in order to resolve disputes are:
- Customer’s signature
- Description on what was sold
- Precise location data
- Whether the reader was used for the payment or not
Because descriptions help describe purchases to customers, we always recommend our users add a description for the item or service sold as well as issue receipts. Also, make sure that your Account page accurately represents your business name. A customer may not remember the charge if it reads “Joe Smith” instead of “Joe’s Coffee Shop.”
(via KB2MOB @ AmiZed Studios)