Point-of-sale payments now a home reno thing
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.
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.