Will mobile campaign donations be a game-changer for politicians?

square-action-shotDetailed by reports from both the campaigns of President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, Square’s mobile payments hardware is being rolled out to collect campaign donations. Fundraisers are being outfitted with the small, plastic credit card reader which can be used with the iPhone, 3G iPad or Android smartphone to collect money while campaigning within neighborhoods or other commercial locations. Assuming that this program is successful when collecting money for presidential candidates, more politicians in lower levels of office could also adopt the strategy of collecting thousands of micro-payments with mobile smartphones or tablets. During the 2010 campaign season, the Square application was used by New York politician Reshma Saujani as well as Silicon Valley’s Josh Becker for political campaigns.

Obama-Square-AppAccording to Obama re-election campaign spokeswoman Katie Hogan, she stated “Eventually we want to make a version of the Obama Square application available to everyone from within the App Store. Someone who is a supporter of the campaign can then download the app, get a Square attachment and can go around collecting donations.” All money collected by the application would go directly to the Obama campaign and supporters wouldn’t need to get the approval of the local campaign office to become a fundraiser. The Square application that’s being used by campaign officials across the country does comply with Federal Election Commission’s rules on mobile payment donations. 

Last year, Square partnered with the Salvation Army in a similar manner to help the organization collect donations through credit cards rather than limiting collections to loose change, bills and checks. This program was rolled out in large cities such as New York City and San Francisco. It helped cut down on theft of typical collections, but Square also continued to collect its standard 2.75 percent fee on all transactions.  


The same processing fee will apply to political campaign donations, but does offer the public a digital paper trail to keep track of the donation. Identical to the standard Square application, the payee will receive a receipt through SMS or email. Outlined within the Federal Election Commission’s rules, the Square application has to collect specific information from the donor such as employer name, occupation, name, street address, city and zip code.

As stated by Square’s brand marketing representative, “It’s now easier than ever to give to campaigns of any political stripe. At a campaign, or any political event, donors will be able to give on the spot. They won’t have to run home and get a check or fill out long paper forms.”

romney-floridaRomney’s campaign is also rolled out a “beta test” of the technology in Florida during today’s primary with merchandise sales and fundraising. Since Romney won the Florida primary with approximately 46 percent of the vote, it’s likely that Romney fundraisers are using the Square hardware to collect donations tonight from registered Republican voters.

According to Romney campaign digital director Zac Moffatt, he stated “Anything that reduces the barrier to donate is going to help us with our supporters. The challenge on this sort of thing is never with the technology, it’s with the compliance. We’re making sure everything we’re doing follows fundraising rules and is compliant with the FEC,” in regards to Square’s mobile payment technology. 

The Romney campaign is also looking into creating a custom mobile application, similar to Obama’s campaign, that would allow anyone to collect money for the Republican candidate using the Square hardware. According to campaign officials, they are also looking into developing an iPhone specific application to collect donations through an app interface. However, Romney campaign officials are concerned about the 30 percent revenue cut that goes to Apple when a micro-transaction is conducted through an application downloaded from the iTunes App Store.

Emerging Tech

It’s no flying car, but the e-scooter had a huge impact on city streets in 2018

Within just a year, electric scooters have fundamentally changed how we navigate cities. From San Francisco to Paris, commuters have a new option that’s more fun than mass transit, easier than a bike, and definitely not a car.

Looking for an Apple MacBook below $900? Woot has you covered

If you're looking for a great deal on an Apple MacBook, then Amazon's Woot may just have what you have been seeking. It has Macbooks available for only $810 with Intel M3 CPUs, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB SSDs.
Emerging Tech

This exotic new material somehow gets thicker when stretched

Scientists at the U.K.’s University of Leeds have discovered a synthetic material which actually gets thicker the more it’s stretched. Here are some of the things it could be used for.

New rumors say the Pixelbook 2 could show up at CES 2019

What will the Pixelbook 2 be like? Google hasn't announced it, but thanks to rumors and leaks, we think we have a pretty good idea of what the potential new flagship Chromebook will be like.

The Galaxy A8s is Samsung's first with a hole-punch camera cutout

Samsung is building exciting, technologically innovative midrange phones, and the latest to be revealed is the new Samsung Galaxy A8s, which may give us an idea of what the new Samsung Galaxy S10 will look like.

The best smartphone stocking stuffers for a very techy Christmas

If you've got a tech-loving smartphone enthusiast to buy for, we can help you out. Here's a selection of top phone accessories that would make amazing stocking stuffers so you can have a very Merry Christmas.
Product Review

The Black Shark gaming phone takes a big bite out of your free time, but the software sinks it

The world is being treated to an ever-increasing number of high-powered gaming phones. With so many great options already out, is there room for another? The Black Shark thinks so. But is it any good? We find out.

OnePlus's 5G phone should arrive in May 2019, may cost up to $850

OnePlus will be among the first companies to put the new Snapdragon 855 processor into a phone, and will also release a separate and more expensive 5G phone in 2019 with the help of U.K. network EE.

Santa Claus is coming to town. Get ready with these Christmas apps

Like it or not, Christmas comes but once a year. Thankfully, we've got a list of the best Christmas apps to help get you into the holiday spirit, just in case you want to call Santa or become a Christmas elf.

Xiaomi’s Gamepad 2.0 turns the Black Shark into a mini Switch

Chinese phone manufacturer Xiaomi has introduced the Gamepad 2.0 for its Black Shark gaming phone that launched earlier this year. The new gamepad is similar to the Switch Joy-Con, with one piece attaching to each side of the phone.

Google makes it easy to donate to charity straight through the Play Store

As we head into the holiday season, Google announced a new feature on Google Play that makes it a little easier to donate to charity. Through the new page, you'll be able to choose from a range of charities to donate to.

These are the best smartwatches for everything from fashion to fitness

Tempted to buy a smartwatch? If so, then the growing number of great models available means you've got plenty to choose from. But which one should you pick? Here is our list of the best smartwatches.

The Galaxy S10 may be announced before MWC, sell for up to $1,750

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.

The LG V40 ThinQ, G7 ThinQ, and Watch W7 are discounted for the holidays

LG announced a series of deals for the holiday season where you can buy the company's two flagship phones, the V40 ThinQ and G7 ThinQ, as well as its latest smartwatch, for between $150 and $200 off, depending on the device.