October 18, 2013, 12:00 AM — Square, the innovative payment solutions company, launched what might be their most ambitious project yet this week. Square Cash is a new platform that allows you to email someone cash and have the funds transfer between debit cards automatically - for free.
How it works
It sounds too good to be true, but mostly it is true. Using just your email address and a debit card, you can send someone else money simply by composing an email. All that you need to do is Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org and enter the dollar amount in the subject line.
Of course, if you’ve never used the service before there is setup involved. When square gets your first request to send money, they will reply to you with a link to setup your debit card and personal information for the first time. After that the money will be sent to the recipient who will go through a similar process if it’s their first time using the service. Once both parties are connected, the funds will be transferred between the two bank accounts via their debit cards.
The best part? There are no fees. NONE. At least today. This makes for an extremely compelling payment service for everyday transactions. Anything from rent to fantasy football to lunch repayment is now free from the 2% - 3% loss incurred using services like PayPal.
The initial reaction for most people when they hear “payment by email” is that it will be horribly insecure. Square has taken significant steps to secure the process however, and users should not be overly concerned. For starters, you will receive a text message to your mobile phone each time a payment is sent. Payments can only originate from your e-mail address directly (no web forms). Further, Square’s risk detection systems analyze payments for suspicious behavior around the clock. Payments can be cancelled before they are redeemed. After redemption they can be disputed just like a credit card payment.
What it isn't
So what can’t Square Cash do? Well, pretty much anything business related. With the email security restrictions in place, purchasing anything through a website using Square Cash is no possible. In addition, both parties must use a Debit Card for the transaction. That means that businesses using a business credit card are out of luck. That’s not the intended target of Square Cash though, that’s what regular Square is for (along with the fees).
Square Cash might be the best way yet to send social payments from one person to another. If nothing else, it should reduce the number of excuses for not getting repaid by your welching buddies for rent last month.