Square iPad app makes cash registers history

New app turns Apple's tablet, Android devices into modern-day cash registers

It might be time to become a little less attached to your wallet.

Tech startup Square, which is led by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, announced Monday that it's working to turn the iPad, iPhone and Android devices into portable payment systems.

At a news conference in San Francisco, the company unveiled two mobile applications designed to let shoppers and stores use digital devices instead of a cash register or credit card terminal when conducting transactions.

Square Register, a new free app for Apple's iPad
Square Register, a new free app for Apple's iPad, turns the device into a modern-day cash register.

Square Register, a new free app for Apple's iPad, is designed to speed up the checkout process, track sales and make it easy for businesses to communicate with customers on their mobile devices. The touch-enabled point-of-sale and checkout app essentially replaces stores' cash registers.

The application can also generate digital receipts, update pricing and maintain virtual storefronts.

The company also unveiled Card Case, an app designed to help iPhone and Android users find local businesses and track and store digital receipts. The Card Case app also lets users set up tabs for their favorite merchants, making purchasing instant and easy. Card Case, according to Square, can be activated through a text message invitation from Square after the user makes a credit card purchase at a participating merchant.

"Cash registers and credit card terminals are relics of an expensive, complicated, and impersonal commercial transaction system," said Dorsey, CEO of Square. "With Register and Card Case, we're transforming everyday transactions between buyers and sellers into something special."

The Square Register app for iPad is available for free in Apple's App Store.

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with Yankee Group, noted that there already are a lot of portable payment systems available. What sets Square's apps apart is that they take advantage of Apple's iPhone and iPad. And that, he says, makes it cool.

"A waiter could hand a customer a digital menu," said Kerravala. "The customer could click on a wine and get a description, maybe check out how a meal is prepared and then pay on the iPad, as well. The iPad can make the dining experience much more interactive, with payment being part of that."

The iPad, he added, allows the portable payment system to do more than just process payments.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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