Updated 5/26/2015: Square has removed Square Wallet from the iTunes App Store and has publicly stated that the service is no longer a priority. At this time, Square Wallet is not an active product.
Square Wallet (squareup.com/wallet) is a free mobile wallet application offered by Square. Like LevelUp, PayPal, or the now-defunct Google Wallet, Square Wallet allows customers to pay at eligible stores using only their smartphones. All a user needs to do is download the free Square Wallet app, link his or her credit card, provide a photo, and activate the app in a Square Register-enabled location. The cashier will see the customer’s username and photo in the Square Register, and the customer can then pay by simply stating his or her username to the cashier. The Square Wallet can only be used at stores that utilize the Square Register point-of-sale system, which means that only Square merchants can offer this service to customers. Square made a splash in late 2012 by signing an agreement with Starbucks to enable all of its stores to accept Square Wallet payments.
Square Wallet Pros
From a customer’s perspective, Square Wallet provides an easy, secure payment method that allows for discreet tipping and eliminates the need to deal with card readers. The service also automatically detects perks that are available to the customer, such as loyalty programs and active sales. Customer reviews praise the fact that users don’t have to hand their phone to the cashier or wave the phone over a scanner of some sort, since the Square Wallet can communicate with the cloud-based Register system from a user’s pocket.
For a merchant, accepting Square Wallet can have several benefits. Customers can use the app to see which nearby businesses accept Square Wallet payments, so this feature may give merchants the edge over non-Square-enabled competitors. Additionally, the use of a phone to make payments provides a seamless payment option that eliminates potential issues with cash handling or card readers. Since Square Register allows merchants to promote loyalty programs or special deals to Square Wallet customers, merchants can encourage repeat business. Best of all, though, is the fact that Square Wallet acceptance is free with the Square Register. There is no additional commitment necessary for a merchant to try it out.
Square Wallet Cons
Most Square Wallet complaints have been posted by customers who experienced slow or failed payment attempts through the app. Customers report a low number of Wallet-compatible stores in their area, employee confusion over how to accept Square Wallet payments, slow or inefficient processing that holds up lines, and occasionally not seeing a “tip” option when they want to tip a server. These reported issues may improve as more stores begin to accept Square Wallet and teach their employees how to use it. It is also possible that some of these complaints are due to the fact that Square Register cannot accept Square Wallet payments on a smartphone. Employees must accept Square Wallet payments through a Square Register-enabled iPad.
Customers also report a long load time when trying to check in at a Square Register location. Square Wallet offers an automatic check-in feature that alerts cashiers the second a Square Wallet user steps into the store, but customers have noted that this feature drains phone battery at a rapid rate.
Aside from these device-related hiccups, Square Wallet also has the issues that come with being tied to Square’s merchant services. Merchants who wish to offer Square Wallet acceptance will need to sign up for both the Square Register and credit card processing through Square. While Square is known to have transparent transaction rates (2.75% swiped, 3.5% plus $0.15 keyed), the company also suffers from a very high volume of complaints related to poor customer service and a pattern of withholding funds. Our review of Square currently awards the company an overall rating of “D,” and most merchants are not advised to sign up for Square simply to be able to accept Square Wallet payments.
Square Wallet Review
Rated out of 5 Stars
Reviewed by Phillip Parker
Updated on 2015-05-26
In concept, Square Wallet represents a free, streamlined, smartphone-only mobile payment option for customers. The service has a lot of potential for innovation and is a nice benefit afforded to existing Square merchants. However, it appears that many users are experiencing issues with disrupted function and low availability among merchants at this time. These issues may resolve themselves as Square Wallet gains traction, but individual experiences will probably vary for some time. Additionally, merchants should not consider signing up with Square just to be able to accept Square Wallet at this time, since Square currently does not offer live customer support and has a high volume of online complaints. Taken on its own merits (independently of Square’s flaws), Square Wallet currently receives a “B” rating.
This review was originally published on 11/13/13 and was last updated on 5/26/15.
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