November 2, 2011

Square GPS-Enabled Payments, Privacy Issue or Cool Feature

Is Square GPS-enabled payments a privacy issue or cool feature?

For those using Square cardcase tabs on their iPhone - when you are within 100 m of a merchant’s location (detected by iPhone’s geo-fencing feature using GPS), a tab will open up on your iPhone and the merchant’s iPad. The merchant will also know that you are nearby.

You can make a payment by just giving the merchant your name (the merchant enters the payment on your Square tab).

For some, this will be a cool feature; it will shave a few seconds required for the payment. It will be a great convenience at stores that you visit frequently e.g. coffee shops, grocery etc. 

But, for others, it introduces a potential privacy issue. The merchant(s) will know when you are around whether you buy anything or not and can probably log each of your visits.

Square cardcase tabs only displays your “I am nearby” status to merchants you have authorized which minimizes the potential privacy issues.

Square cardcase tabs is the classical location-app, where a person is walking down the street, her presence is broadcast to all merchants nearby who push their offers hoping to entice the person to spend at their shop.