Today's Obsession: Square

Today’s Obsession was going to be a look at the reasoning behind yesterday’s gaffe in calling CSS3 part of HTML5. But it’s proving a bit long to write, so we’re going to do that on Monday. Thanks for all the emails about that; you can stop now.

Today, let’s look at one of my favorite startups that should be getting more attention than it is. This is Square, and one of the best ideas I’ve seen in years. In a nutshell: you sign up for an account, hook up a bank account to it, wait for a few days to get a free attachment for your iPhone or Android handset in the mail. Then: you can take credit card payments anywhere, any time from anyone by swiping your card through your phone. It’s a ridiculously good idea.

Here’s an example: let’s say I meet my trainer Dave at Horner Park for an outdoor set. Do we go back to his gym to ring out the session? Nope. Dave whips out his phone, swipes my card, and I’m free to go find and kill an unsuspecting sandwich. It’s really that easy.

Square handles all the merchant account info, and you can accept Mastercard, Visa, or Am Ex. The cost: 2.75% per transaction. That’s less than both Google Checkout and PayPal. So you can use it when a pal’s short on cash (pay their way and swipe his card!), in client meetings, or at craft fairs, for the Etsy crowd. So so cool.

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