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How to Accept Credit Card Payments on Your Phone: Just Swipe It

Having trouble getting your friends to pay you back that $20? Well now they can swipe a credit card on you phone. It's handy for small business too.

The credit card processing industry rakes in over $40 billion each year a few pennies per swipe. As plastic payments become more ubiquitous, especially with growing online sales, cash is starting to seem obsolete, sadly. Transaction services are safe bet for a growth sector. So it's no wonder a new entrant to the game is bringing the action to mobile phones. And this one might actually help the little guy.

Square is an smartphone app–and a little white square (pictured below)–that lets anyone who downloads the free app process credit card payments right on their phone. All you need is a U.S. bank account, a social security number, and a street address. Oh, and a smartphone with an internet connection. The company will send you the smallest credit card swipe machine you've ever seen. It inserts into the headphone jack of your phone, but you don't even need that to process payments, it's just way more fun. The Wired pop-up store was even giving them away to anyone who stopped by.

Once you download the app and set up your account you can start collecting all manner of old debts, inappropriate door charges to dinner parties or, more likely, conveniently make a few extra sales in your small business. This seems like a tool we could include in our tips for becoming a carft show superstar.

Mobile credit card processing machines aren't revolutionary, and it's always been relatively easy in most places to point a customer to a computer and ask them to make an online payment if there wasn't a processing machine connected to a phone line nearby. So Square is no game changer for small business. But the elegant interface might just facilitate a few extra entrepreneurs in getting out and setting up (a small) shop. Or getting your little brother to finally pay you back that $20 he never carries in cash.

PSFK has plenty of pics of Square in use if you want to see what a signature on an iPhone looks like.

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