Hitting the credit card companies where it hurts

I'm one of those people who doesn't carry around much cash, I'm that person who will pay for a coffee with a piece of plastic if possible. I know most of you hate me for doing so but its so much easier to track stuff later (yes I know this also means i'm also easier track too).

But what bugs me is going to places like computer fairs and having to either carry lots of cash, fiddle around with a cheque book (which the UK has decided to kill by 2018) or only use certainly suppliers because they accept cards. Talking to most suppliers, the number one reason why they don't accept cars is because Visa and Mastercard charge quite a bit extra on each transaction (yep everyone knows this) and they charge a lot to rent those pin machines. Yep talking to one it can be as high as a extra grand a month for those machines. Which is fine if your a business doing lots of transactions but not so great if your selling small goods at a computer fair.

In steps a new startup called Squareup.com which is trying to bypass the whole special pin machines by offering small retailers an suppliers the ability to take card payments on there own smartphones. Visa and Mastercard still make there usual transaction fee but at least the supplier doesn't have to rent some expensive machine in the hope someone will use their card.

Its all pretty neat, and I wish the guys luck. I had wondered if this was a classic example of emulating the pirates which have been using a similar device to collect stolen credit cards for a while now. So power to the suppliers, but I can certainly see this being exploited for many peoples gain. Proceed with lots of caution!

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.