Right From your Phone
SAN FRANCISCO – December 10, 2012 – Square, the company making commerce easy for everyone, has launched a new way to send meaningful gifts to friends anywhere, Square gift cards. There are now a quarter of a million local businesses across the country accepting gift cards. Using Square Wallet on their phone, customers can treat their friends to their favorite local business.
Square gift cards are fun to send and fun to use. Anyone can share a local shopping experience with her friends and family instantly from her phone. Square Wallet automatically saves gift cards so customers can easily redeem them.
“I just sent my parents a gift to their favorite bookstore, Left Bank Books in St. Louis,” said Square co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey. “It’s incredibly fun to give my friends unique and meaningful gifts, treat them to their favorite neighborhood places, all from my couch.”
Cask Store, an artisanal beverage purveyor in San Francisco, sees a spike in sales around the holidays from people buying gifts. “We find a lot of customers have a hard time deciding exactly what to get their friends and family,” said Doug Dalton, owner of Cask. “Gift cards make it easier for people to come in and choose their perfect bottle of wine - which makes everyone happy.”
Historically gift card programs have been complicated, cumbersome and expensive for businesses. Square enables businesses to seamlessly accept gift cards at no additional cost with no additional tools.
Square Wallet is the easy and fast way to discover nearby businesses, earn rewards and pay with your phone. Customer can pay with Square Wallet at over 200,000 businesses in the U.S., including Starbucks.
(Reuters) - Payment start-up Square Inc scrapped its gift card service less than a year after it launched the effort.
"Square gift cards were a fun way to send gifts from local businesses to anyone over the holiday season," a Square spokesman said on Thursday. "They are no longer available for purchase."
Square, which competes against eBay Inc's (EBAY.O) PayPal division, launched the service in December, offering gift cards useable at businesses that accepted the company's Square Wallet mobile payment application.
Square, headed by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, makes a credit card reader that slots into smartphones and helps small merchants accept plastic more easily. The company has expanded into other areas of mobile payments, with mixed success.
The gift card service "wasn't a very well thought-out experience," said Rocky Agrawal, payment and commerce analyst at reDesign Mobile. Agrawal said he tested the gift cards at several merchants and at least half of the businesses did not know how to redeem them.
Square may also have had trouble dealing with different state laws covering gift cards. In California, if a consumer has a balance of less than $10 on a gift card, merchants are required to refund that value in cash, according to Agrawal.
"Merchants didn't know anything about that when I asked them," he said.
Square is a close strategic partner of Starbucks Corp (SBUX.O), which has also invested in the start-up.
Agrawal said that when he tried to get refunds on Square gift cards at Starbucks shops in California, staff knew about the rules but had no way to give him cash for the value on the cards.
(Reporting by Alistair Barr; Editing by Leslie Adler)
About Square, Inc.
Square is making commerce easy for everyone. Starting with a free credit card reader for the iPhone, iPad, and Android devices, The Mobile Card Reader from Square allows anyone to accept credit cards anywhere, anytime. Square Register serves as a full point-of-sale system for businesses to accept payments, track inventory, and share menu and location information. Square Wallet, available in the US, is the most seamless way to pay, enabling individuals to pay at their favorite local businesses, discover new ones nearby, explore menu listings, and store receipts. Founded in 2009, and headquartered in San Francisco, Square is currently available in the U.S. and Canada. More information is available at squareup.com.