Square just introduced a full-on cash register (without cash) that’s a more robust version of the little white reader you’ve probably seen at coffee shops and farmer’s markets. The register has a touch screen for the cashier, and a second screen for the customer to see their bill being rung up. That means in the near future, the barista at the coffee shop won’t have to turn the iPad for you to sign after taking your order.
Square launched its new product at a pop-up shop for merchandise from the record label TDE (Top Dawg Entertainment), which releases music from Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, SZA, and more. Jack Dorsey, dual CEO of both Square and Twitter, sat down with BuzzFeed News at the event.
Compared to Dorsey’s other company, Twitter, which is dealing with drama about Russian troll farms on its platform and its Gordian knot of harassment policies, Square is doing great. Its stock price is strong, and its payment processor has gone from novelty to ubiquitous. Square Cash, the company’s money-transferring service, has also recently eclipsed its competitor Venmo in app downloads.
Some have said money-sending apps like Square Cash and Venmo have made friendships weird. In situations where friends might have just said, “I got next time” as a way of keeping tabs, now you can ask them for their share of the delivery pizza and wine you shared as you dished about exes while they’re on their cab ride home.
But according to Dorsey, this isn’t anything new with the Square Cash app. “People have always been rude about money,” he told BuzzFeed News.
In addition to its payment processors – first the little dongle, and now the sleek register – Square gives out small business loans. The target client is a small business owner who wouldn’t have qualified for a traditional bank loan, say, a hairdresser who wants to put down a deposit to open their own shop. Square Capital (the loan arm) recently applied to become a industrial loan company in Utah, which is a specific type of bank charter that allows it to take deposits and act more like a traditional bank. However, Dorsey says Square isn’t trying to become a bank. “We’re not competing with banks,” he said. “We’re competing with people going to their friends and family to go beg for money.”
While the launch for Square’s new register happened at a pop-up shop that sells sweatshirts and tees for musicians, the product is not necessarily for the average touring musician who needs a simple way to run her merch table (bands love Square for merch! It’s true!). The register is for larger retailers – places with plenty of employees to train on the system, multiple locations, and a need for more speed.
Jesse Dorogusker, head of hardware, told BuzzFeed News that Square’s chip reader is much faster than the average chip reader. A helpful publicist at the pop-up offered to swipe his card for a demo purchase. It was declined (oops), but it did get declined fast! His second card seemed to go through fast, but it was hard to tell exactly how fast without a stopwatch handy to compare it to Duane Reade.
Since the register has its own point of sale software, and the demo video was set up for a bar purchase, I wondered if Dorsey was familiar with the software that’s promoted for point of sale on the reaity TV show Bar Rescue (it’s not Square). If there’s one thing I love on this planet, it’s the hoarsely bombastic tones of Jon Taffer telling some end-of-her-rope bar owner how he upgraded her cash register software during the makeover of her failing family-owned bar (the show is always sponsored by the software in the credits).
Dorsey, sadly, has never seen Bar Rescue. But he is confident they can compete against other touch screen register systems. “Yeah, most of them are pretty crappy, so it should be pretty easy.”