Innovation, the size of a square.

I’m really excited about technology as it keeps innovating itself every millisecond. Consumers are getting savvy and businesses need strategy and direction to keep up with that. What I love most is that everybody wants to KISS. Keep it Simple, Stupid J

Technology can be complicated and all of us have experienced that in the last decade. What we are yet to realise, is that this complicated technology can be used to make life simple for those who don’t understand it. This happens when technology meets design and goes for a cup of coffee.

A recent example is Square, the simplest way to take money. I like to call it credit 2.0 because it’s not only a billing system but also acts as a communication tool between the user and the customer. It is a small square shaped device which can be attached to the 3.5mm jack on your phone and allows you to swipe cards and get paid instantly. This takes care of the credit, now the communication – bills go straight to your customer’s inbox making the procedure paperless and extremely simple. Features like an optional ‘tip jar’ and ‘visit counter’ make it an extremely useful tool. Tip jar allows your customers to tip you and visit counter shows you the number of visits each client has made which allows you take instant decisions of rewarding your customer for his loyalty.

Launched by Jack Dorsey, of Twitter fame, it is being funded by Vinod Khosla of Khosla Ventures. It is good news for India as it pumps new freedom into the microfinance industry and brings immediacy, transparency and approachability to the financial world, as Dorsey puts it. Phones will become our personal wealth managers available 24 by7. Keeping track of payments and receipts will be a breeze. Not having to make multiple trips to the bank saves on time and means more productivity. Although, at the moment square works only on the iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and Android devices but they are planning to roll out other phone compatibilities soon. And when that happens, the financial market is going to be a sunnier place.

Share, what you think about this innovation and whether it will be able to make a difference to the financial industry in India.

Shivani GargInnovation, the size of a square.

Comments 8

  1. Sharath

    Some of the tech firms of India are already piloting a "truly novel" idea of cashless transactions and are keeping it a lot more simpler. By this, I mean, they are leveraging on the fact that mobile phones (ones' with decent megapixel cameras) which are prolific in the developing world to register/authenticate a financial transaction using biometric systems (possibly by reading a finger print). When compared to Square, these "mobile apps" have an edge because:1. they don't need any external hardware2. already work on low end mobiles (compared to iPhone, BB etc..)3. a lot safer because it uses biometrics (this allows only the a/c holder to transact, but Square would allow anybody to transact- just like a credit card).But, will Square change/affect the Microfinance sector? Maybe not!!Because, Microfinance is all about offering micro-loans to the BoP (Bottom of Pyramid) to help meet their basic needs like house repair, emergency loan, business loan etc.Nevertheless, I might be wrong! After all Square is the brain child of Jack Dorsey and is funded by Vinod Khosla, both extremely rich, powerful and successful people! Product success hugely depends on the glamour Q that it carries. Investors/clients like to see a product like Square being back by extremely successful people. If its already being funded by Mr. Khosla who is known to fund some of the most successful companies in the world, even I'd bet my money on Square because "money attracts more money" and along with it comes success :-)- Sharath

  2. Megha

    Square seems interesting for sure, but micro finance is all about reaching the base of pyramid. If or not square can reach them and get them to finance projects is to be seen. Ventures like these are rave for sure but technology to reach the BoP has to be more accessible, varied at the meeting focals and also have the reaching points. Square is a high end market product from where i see it, yes maybe it can be used to reach the BoP, but will this product actualize it,; i am skeptical about it. The micro finance sector needs innovation thats easy to reach for the people and not a high end snazzy product. Yes this product if integrated for the micro finance venture may prove to be successful, but do the market players look at that as a viable option?

  3. Shivani Garg

    @sharath, Thanks for the detailed analysis. I'm very excited about the #biometrics #transactions but don't know how it's going to work? Is it just another method to pay your bills or take payment as well (as is in the case of square) Do keep me posted about this.

  4. Shivani Garg

    @Megha_bhagat I think it can become big in the Indian #microfinance scenario if concrete steps are taken with the right vision. Transacting will become easier and faster. Lets see what square and biometrics have in store for us.

  5. Sharath

    NO, its not just another way to pay your bills. These are "mobile apps" that are designed to make both receive/ make payments and a simple transfer of funds from one a/c to another (say from your dad's a/c to yours). Where as, Square is active only when a business deal is struck.

    1. Fabiana

      I was at a Made in Hawaii product show yadtersey and one of the merchants had a Square attached to their IPhone. She used it for my purchase. I signed my signature on the IPhone with my pinkie! It was cool and quick!

  6. Shivani Garg

    Hmmm… so are you saying Square requires both parties to be physically present and the other does not?

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