Point-of-sale pay­ments now a home reno thing

Truro Daily News - - SALTWIRE HOMES - Steve Maxwell

Look back 10 years and you’ll prob­a­bly re­al­ize that you now carry less cash and you use plas­tic and on­line sys­tems like Pay­pal more of­ten. Email money trans­fers and on­line bank­ing have be­come nor­mal, and the con­tin­ued pen­e­tra­tion of dig­i­tal fi­nan­cial sys­tems hasn’t stopped, ei­ther.

The next time you hire a trades­per­son or con­trac­tor, don’t be sur­prised if they whip out a white plas­tic square, paired via blue­tooth with their phone, then of­fer to tap or insert your credit or debit card for pay­ment right then and there.

The most com­mon and best of these de­vices is called Square and it’s part of a larger fi­nan­cial sys­tem that in­cludes ac­count­ing and in­voic­ing. Tech­nol­ogy like this will con­tinue to ad­vance be­cause it of­fers ad­van­tages to buy­ers and sellers.

The lit­tle square card reader you may have al­ready seen is part of a busi­ness tool­kit cre­ated by a com­pany called Square (square.ca). It in­cludes the kind of thing you’ll prob­a­bly see some­time soon in your kitchen as you pay for plumb­ing re­pairs, from at a lo­cal cafe some­where or when the roofer fin­ishes putting on new shin­gles. Square also in­cludes hard­ware that al­lows cards to be ac­cepted over the counter, while also pro­vid­ing sim­pli­fied back­end ac­count­ing, em­ployee man­age­ment and in­ven­tory func­tions for busi­nesses.

The one event that fi­nally con­vinced me that dig­i­tal pay­ments, ac­cepted any­where in the field, was the way of the fu­ture hap­pened when I was in­ter­view­ing a paint­ing com­pany owner from Al­berta named John Bryant.

“We used to strug­gle to get paid in a timely way,” ex­plains Bryant, “but we’ve solved this prob­lem now. All our crew leads carry a Square card reader. When cus­tomers agree that a job is com­plete, they have the op­tion to swipe their card and pay­ment goes im­me­di­ately into our busi­ness ac­count via a cell phone con­nec­tion. Strange, but call­back rates have also gone way down since we got our crews out­fit­ted with Square. It seems that peo­ple are more con­tent about a job when they’ve paid for it.”

The phys­i­cal reader of the kind that Bryant’s crews uses is free for any busi­ness (this is the one you’re most likely to see when pay­ing for home im­prove­ments) and the new­est Square reader for over­the-counter or tap-and-go trans­ac­tions and chips are $59 to buy. The en­tire sys­tem is also de­signed to be sim­ple and eco­nom­i­cal, too. A flat rate of 2.65 per cent re­gard­less of the credit card or sit­u­a­tion, or a 10 cent charge to the ven­dor for ev­ery debit card trans­ac­tion.

An­other way that sim­ple, point-of-sale pay­ment sys­tems can help is if you de­cide to go into busi­ness for your­self. I’m a big fan of work­ing from home. I’ve earned my liv­ing ex­clu­sively this way since 1990, and I know that tak­ing pay­ments on­line or over-the-phone is al­most univer­sal with home busi­nesses these days.

Cu­ri­ous about how all this works, I talked to Karisa Marra at Square in British Columbia.

“Our aim has al­ways been to make life sim­pler and eas­ier for busi­ness own­ers,” ex­plains Marra. “My big­gest chal­lenge is to show that Square is more than a pay­ment op­tion as we’ve ex­panded the busi­ness tool­kit that we of­fer over the past few years. We have back­end ac­count­ing tools that track sales, in­voices and es­ti­mates. As a busi­ness owner, you can be any­where in the world and still see how sales are go­ing back home us­ing only the Square app on your phone.”

To be hon­est, I like the idea of paper money bet­ter than the dig­i­tal equiv­a­lent, but when I sit down and look at the way I ac­tu­ally spend, you’d never know it. If diehard cash peo­ple like me are do­ing the dig­i­tal money thing, then it’s prob­a­bly here to stay. Steve Maxwell is al­ways look­ing to bal­ance ef­fi­ciency with au­then­tic­ity on his Man­i­toulin Is­land, On­tario home­stead. Visit Steve on­line at Bai­ley­lineroad.com for how-to ar­ti­cles and videos.

ROBERT MAXWELL

Point-of-sale pay­ment op­tions are com­ing to a home ren­o­va­tion near you. Con­trac­tors favour this ap­proach be­cause it stream­lines ac­count­ing and speeds pay­ments re­ceived.

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