In this video from the “21st Century Individuals vs. 20th Century Organizations” session at Techonomy 2011 in Tuscon, Ariz., Techonomy’s David Kirkpatrick talks to Twitter co-founder and Square CEO Jack Dorsey about what we can expect from Square in the next five years. The mobile app, which allows anyone to accept credit card payments to their phones or devices, has the potential to revolutionize the way businesses interact with customers. The pay-by-voice system that Dorsey refers to in the video, now known as Pay With Square, is already being used at 75,000 shops around the country.
Kirkpatrick: How should we imagine Square in five years? What’s it going to be like? What is it going to do for the world in five years?
Dorsey: We started out just accepting credit cards—we realized that it was even more interesting to build a full point-of-sale system that handled every single payment device in the payer’s pocket. So if you came to Square with your credit card we accept that. If you come with a checkbook, we accept that and offer a receipt. If you come with cash, we accept that and offer a receipt. You have all of this interesting—You have this very interesting channel with the receipt. If you treat the receipt as a publishing medium, as a communication channel, between the merchant and the payer, then the potential for what you can do with that is just amazing. Typically, in this country and markets abroad, we get a receipt and we throw it away immediately or we give it to the expense department. It’s not useful. But they have never really been electronic. The closest we’ve gotten is the Apple store with the PDF but you can’t interact with it, you can’t run it, you can’t keep it with you. So Square, to us, is about that communication channel. It’s about that exchange of value. Payment is something that we have to do to get to something that is even more interesting which is around that merchant/payer communication.
Kirkpatrick: That “We” being Square? That’s where your opportunity is somehow getting in the middle of that?
Dorsey: Yeah. Our first foray into it is this product that we launched in May called Card Case which is this little application, you link your credit card, and you open the application up and you can see all the merchants around you that accept Square. You can open a card for each merchant. You can see their full menu because they are putting their full menu in the Square register. You can see their hours and you can see their Tweets. We include Twitter functionality. Most importantly, you’ve linked your credit card so you can actually turn this feature on we call Auto Tab which allows you to automatically open a tab with that merchant. You can set this in and when you are within 50 meters of that merchant—when you are walking up to the counter your name and your picture appear on the register as do your last orders. I had a cappuccino yesterday. So without bringing out my phone, without bringing out my wallet, I can say, “I want a cappuccino. Put it on Jack.” They find me, they verify my picture is me, they hit the button, and done. My card is charged in the background. I get my cappuccino. I’ve never had to touch anything. I didn’t have to wave any device. I didn’t have to swipe a card. I didn’t have to fumble around with cash. And I get a little push notification afterwards asking me if I want to tip. ll on my own speed. All asymmetrically.
Kirkpatrick: It’s impressive. How does it compare to what Google and Apple and others are excited about? What’s NFC, near field communications, where you hold your cell phone up to pay? How would you compare it?
Dorsey: I think the biggest thing for me is—NFC is another thing you have to do. It’s another action that you have to take and it’s not the most human action to wave a device around another device and wait for a beep. Right? It just doesn’t feel right. I would rather just use my name to pay. “I’m Jack. This is me.”
Kirkpatrick: Aren’t you going to say what you said to me this morning? The “leap frog” thing?
Dorsey: So the technology standpoint is that NFC only gives the merchant identity after the transaction is calculated which takes away the potential for the merchant to delight the customer. With Card Case, the customer can walk in the store, and the merchant actually gets a notification that the customer is in the store and that I had a cappuccino last time. I can actually start making the cappuccino and say “Here David, here is your cappuccino” and then it is done. It’s just super simple and that’s what builds loyalty. That’s what gets people coming back. We see it again and again. We see it with the Apple store, we see it with Starbucks where you go to the same Starbucks every single time. They know your name. They greet you with a smile. They know your order. It’s amazing.