Apparently, mobile payment company Square thought its initial vision of arming merchants everywhere with credit card readers wasn’t quite ambitious enough. Today, at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in New York, the company announced an upgraded lineup of services, including the ability to pay by just giving the merchant your name, no credit card required.
There are now two main parts to Square’ service, which the company is promoting as a way to replace cash registers entirely. There’s new Register app for merchants, which is built for iPads. Naturally, it still allows businesses to easily accept credit card payments, but it also includes new features that allow businesses to update their inventory, add specials, and track customer behavior.
The new Card Case app presents the consumer side of the experience, and businesses can bring new customers on-board by sending them a link from which to download the app. Card Case allows you to see nearby businesses, read menus, store electronic copies of all your receipts, and, yes, open a tab with a business that allows you to pay without swiping your credit card. When you’ve started a tab, you just give your name to the merchant, then they can pull up their list of customers who have recently opened the app nearby. The merchant accepts the payment using the credit card information that’s already entered into the app. Square will provide a big photo of the customer in question to help ensure that they’re not being impersonated by someone else.
A few weeks ago, when Square’s chief operating officer Keith Rabois appeared at VentureBeat’s Mobile Summit, he said, “We’re not a mobile payments company. We’re a company reinventing payments on a mobile device.” At the time, that statement sounded a bit like hype. With today’s news it’s clear that Square has the ambition, at least, to make it a reality.