Farhad Manjoo on the new Square Stand:
Translation: Credit cards will be here for a good long time. This isn’t a novel admission; Dorsey has always said that he doesn’t think plastic will go away anytime soon. But the launch of the Square Stand—a device engineered to improve the credit card experience—shows how deeply Square is betting on credit cards. It’s as if, after building the Model T, Henry Ford also spent a lot of money to build a faster horse, just to hedge his bets. In this way, Square Stand prompts a deeper question: What if, as wonderful as Square Wallet is, we just never move beyond credit cards? What if people find faster horses good enough?
The problem with credit cards is not that they’re not useful. It’s that they break down very easily and are a huge hassle to replace. If you have to get a replacement card, it’s a real pain, especially if you have a number of subscriptions attached to that account. That’s a big part of the reason that, even though I have bruised and faded cards, I live with it. Because replacing it is a bigger hassle.
But there is something to be said about Square’s overall philosophy here. Last weekend I went to a farmer’s market, something that’s long been a cash-only affair at many venues. But there were a number of vendors sporting Square devices—something which goes a huge way towards liberating both consumers, who hate carrying tons of cash, and vendors, who often find themselves on the short end of the stick with payment systems. The result? I only had to pull out cash once. They’ve gone a very long way towards making payments not suck. And that’s pretty awesome.
(Oh, and the other thing? The way they turn receipts into a digital thing is awesome in the age of receipt hell. The last time I went to CVS, I got six coupons. Six. How many trees does CVS waste because they give coupons to people that they’d never actually use? It’s not eco-friendly and it’s consumer-hostile. But if I had them on my phone, I might remember I have ‘em.)