Square is something of a veteran of the new wave of digital payment products. It was among the first applications to take the devices that were quickly taking over our lives – smartphones and tablets – and turn them into mobile registers for anytime-anywhere convenience.
But its senior status doesn’t mean Square survives without competition. Quite the opposite, in fact – it has plenty. New, up-and-coming startups like PayDragon and Belly have introduced creative ways to manage digital payments, complete with QR codes and loyalty punch card systems. Revel has an enterprise-level client for multi-chain, nationwide businesses. And it’s rumored that Groupon will be introducing its own point-of-sale device in the near future.
While Square’s solution has evolved along with the company, its focus has remained the same: mobile payment solutions that are largely tailored for small, local retailers. Now Square is adding a new feature to its product in the form of a loyalty punch card system. It’s been a highly requested update that gives Square users the option to reward their return customers for their frequent purchases. Square formerly had a simpler, similar solution where merchants could view how loyal a customer was and choose to reward them – seemingly at random. Now, shoppers will get a digital punch card to a location so they can also track their patronage, which as we all know helps drive purchase incentive.
As Square cements its position as a go-to for digital and mobile payments, it has to keep adding these types of tools. It’s unarguably one of the most complete and simplest solutions out there, especially for the small, local business owner. But the market is becoming increasingly crowded and merchants can be picky. The business that the new loyalty card option could challenge is the aforementioned Belly, which outfits its clients with an iPad and offers a completely digital stamp card solution.
But Square’s momentum is difficult to compete with, and the digital payments prize will go to the most fully-featured, front-to-back, versatile application. Square’s 2 million users and $6 billion a year in processed payments is nothing to sneer at, and we can all but say it’s cornered the small business owner. So what’s going to be next for Square? My money’s on the enterprise. It would be a much tougher crowd to convert, and one that Square will need more than loyalty card services to convince. The company would need a very sophisticated support structures and some fairly intense software upgrades for that to happen, but when you’re Square and you received a $1 billion valuation this time last year, many things are within the realm of possibility.