Article in Mobile Future, Technology, New York City, App Review categories.

Is Square Making the Wallet Obsolete?

There’s very little that’s ‘smart’ about the way we exchange money. Our cash system is slow and requires carrying paper around wherever we go, and, while credit card exchanges have gotten easier over the years, they still require that we carry cards around to swipe information. Square, a mobile payments startup, has made the credit card system significantly more efficient by offering Square card readers, which let retailers swipe credit cards on their phones and pay the charges the next day, taking 2.75-percent of the transactions, in the same way that major credit cards operate. Square readers made using credit cards every bit as easy as using cash, without having to carry paper around. But now, by introducing Square Card Case, Square is looking to strike the final death blow to wallets as we know them.

Here’s how Card Case works: after downloading the free app and enabling the location feature in the settings, Card Case will take users’ credit card information and require them to take a photo of themselves. After that, Card Case shows featured places that use Square, as well as offers a list of vendors nearby. Once users select the places they’re thinking about visiting, they can open a tab, much like people would at a bar. When they get to the merchant, they can say to put it on their tab, and the merchant will charge it to their account. It’s the first payment that doesn’t require any sort of physical exchange. No cash is given, and not even a swipe of a card or click of a mouse is necessary. By merely showing up and saying to put it on a tab, payment can be processed.

Card Case is another example of an app that will only gain traction if it reaches a massive vendor audience, in that the technology won’t be particularly useful unless many desirable vendors sign up for it, which is not yet the case. But Square’s success with their card reader, which recently included selling them to Wal-Mart, is a strong indicator that this breakthrough innovation has the potential to go mainstream. Card Case’s future success could, amazingly, eliminate the need for a wallet and cash, since everything will be able to be paid on a tab. Card Case isn’t there yet, number-wise, but they’re challenging our monetary system and making payments ridiculously easy.

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