From cash to credit to cellphones

Last year the Lab spent some time researching the future of credit card payment systems. Our findings convinced us that peer to peer payments and alternative payment platforms would eventually reign. While sites like PayPal and eBay had paved the way, we wanted more flexibility and ease in making purchases. For example, a few months back I filled out the online form for PayPal, but I still haven’t verified the bank account PayPal made a two cent deposit into several days after I signed up (to confirm the account for security reasons). Consumers want the exchange of dollars to be safe, but they also want it to be instant and easy. Really, really easy. That’s why we were excited about the then secret platform code-named “Squirrel” from Twitter co-founder, Jack Dorsey.

Now, Squirrel has been unveiled as Square. As the company tells it, the platform came out of a real need that was not being met: “In February 2009, Jim McKelvey wasn’t able to sell a piece of his glass art because he couldn’t accept a credit card as payment. Even though a majority of payments has moved to plastic cards, accepting payments from cards is still difficult, requiring long applications, expensive hardware, and an overly complex experience. Square was born a few days later right next to the old San Francisco US Mint.” Continue reading “From cash to credit to cellphones”