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Take Credit Card Payments With Your Phone

by Carolyn Elefant on October 25, 2010 · 2 comments

in Credit Cards, Setting and Collecting Fees, Tech & Web

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Last week, my Social Media for Lawyers co-author Niki Black and I discovered Square, a neat app that essentially converts an iphone or other smart phone into a cash register, allowing users to accept credit card payments, and email receipts for both cash and credit card transactions. The app can be linked to a user’s bank account, so that credit card funds are deposited directly. Of course, there’s a processing charge: a flat 15 cents plus 2.75% if you use Square’s credit card portable swiper, 15 cents plus 3.5% if you key in the credit card number. And while the fee may be high, it’s worth the price to capture a sale that might otherwise be lost.

It also occurred to me that Square provides yet another option for lawyers to accept credit card payments. Square could be set up so that fees are deposited directly into your trust account, though you’d need to include extra funds in your trust account to cover the transaction fees, assuming that this practice is lawful in your jurisdiction. (As an aside, I predict that bars will have no choice but to lighten up rules on credit card payments to make it easier for lawyers to avail themselves of providers like PayPal or Square, instead of having to set up a merchant account or use a lawyer-specific credit card processing company. While these options do have some advantages, lawyers who take credit cards for retainers only occasionally shouldn’t have to pay out huge fees for that privilege).

Have you checked out Square? What do you think?

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  • Bob Striker

    I looked at Square when it first came out last spring and again a few weeks ago when David Pogue reviewed it. While it’s a great idea, I think that it a limitation that may rule it out as the sole credit card solution for solos.

    The problem is that Square initially limits payouts to $1,000 a week. Anything over that amount in any week is held for up to 30 days. This may put the kibosh on its use for trust accounts. (I don’t want to have to explain to MY board of professional responsibility why a client’s retainer hasn’t been deposited into my trust account for 3 weeks…) Supposedly, they will raise your limit if you ask them and go through a credit check.

    Having said that, I’ve signed up for Square to give it a trial run. We’ll see how it works and if the limit can be raised. For now, I’ll probably only use it for fees already due and earned so that I don’t have to work through the trust account issues. (I’ve also got another credit card merchant account through Intuit that I’m trying out as well.)

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