I’ve been curious to try Square Wallet for a while. You run an iPhone app which magically knows where you are and transmits this to Square Central, which I imagine to be sort of like the Wonka Factory. Square needs to know your credit card details and then will let you make payments without having to swipe or sign.
I found a cafe and thought the story would be something like stand in line, open the app, click on what I wanted, magically get served and pay.
In reality you can browse the menu but it’s dog slow to do so and there is no ordering. Instead you order with the server as normal and you pop up magically on their terminal, which happens to be an iPad.
Then when you come to pay you say your name and they have a photo of you (taken when you set up wallet) to verify the transaction. After you pay the receipt almost instantly appears on your iPhone.
This particular cafe also had 20% off the first purchase which rings all sorts of Groupon-esque alarm bells. And that’s an interesting train of thought; given the data they have on sellers, purchasers and transactions there are all kinds of fun analytics to be had. Hey, we know you buy coffee over there, switch to here for a week and get 10% off. It’s a more compelling idea than Groupon since they can do deeper tracking to see if you actually become a regular customer or whatever. The level of detail will be stunning if they can get the adoption; hey we know you like Beer x on a Friday, try this other place…
The problem I had is that I don’t have phone service. Normally I could have opened the app, or had it running in the background and it would do all this stuff over AT&T but instead I had to join the free wifi at the cafe first. That made it feel a bit clunky but I’m a tiny minority.
I figure the real transformational experience will be next summers batch of farmers markets. All those guys use square now and it will be possible to go from stand to stand making purchases without using cash or card. The time saving now I think about it would be substantial.
One last note on the nice design tweaks to the maps they show in the app. It looks like the Apple maps API in the background with some shadows around the map and a striped layer of darkness on top to give it the feel of being a semi-folded paper map. Very nice.