Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, February 12, 2012
What a great idea. That’s what Indiana merchants are saying about Square Inc., which offers a service to bypass expensive credit card transaction fees by basically using an iPad, iPhone or Android device as a cash register. There are other firms like it, but San Francisco-based Square has been around since 2009 and is gaining popularity among small businesses in northeast Indiana.
On average, bank card charges are between 2 percent and 3 percent per swipe. That might not sound like much in comparison to Square’s fees. However, Craig Shearman, vice president of governmental affairs for the National Retail Federation, said major retailers fetch lower rates because they have more customers than Mom-and-Pop operations.
Officials at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance in Minneapolis are intrigued by Square. The non-profit is a small business advocate. They say a level playing field needs to exist between the Macy’s and Mom-and-Pops of the world.
“The bigger retailers can afford (credit card fees), but smaller businesses can’t,” said Stacy Mitchell, a senior researcher for the institute. “It really has become one of the biggest costs for small businesses, and they don’t have a choice about it. They’re at the mercy of the big banks and Visa and Mastercard.”
So, for merchants who haven’t discovered Square or operations like it, “it’s not a competitive market,” Mitchell said. “We need some regulators to step in and put some rules in place because these small companies out there are getting gouged.”