Exciting Side Effects of Square

I often feel like I get excited about the wrong parts of technology.  I just watched the fireside chat with Jack Dorsey about Square from Le Web.  He did a demo of Square and one thing really stuck with me. There was a point where he was entering the email address for the receipt and it remembered what email was last used with that card.  I realize that the exciting part of Square is that people who would otherwise have difficulty taking credit card payments now have a solution.  I know that the next exciting part is getting rid of paper receipts and having them all emailed.  However, those things are all obvious and core to what Square is.  What fascinates me are the side effects that seem to always come along with great technologies.

I think what excites me more than any individual part of Square is the fact that it is the next generation of credit card billing.  I don’t mean to say that it will replace the existing infrastructure of credit card billing.  I mean that it is a solution that is designed from a new foundation, asking questions that the dominant players wouldn’t even think to ask.  Because of this, there are countless opportunities that have been overlooked for far too long.

As a credit card user, the closest thing I have to a profile is online banking.  This allows me to gather information from the bank and for the bank to gather information about me.  The problem there is that my interaction with the bank is far less important than my interaction with the retailers where I’m spending my money.  This is because I interact with more retailers more often in more ways.  My only interaction with the bank is that I’ve told a robot somewhere to give it money every month.

This is why Square excites me as a consumer.  It allows me to create a set of information that isn’t just shared between myself and the bank, but it allows me to create a set of information that is shared between myself and retailers.  One of the other side effects of this that Jack showed off is a photo that they can use to verify my identity.

This type of profile ties into two themes that really excite me about the future.  The first is the ability to carry less stuff with me.  I find the amount of stuff I have to carry everywhere I go that does nothing but carry information.  The second is the power of a world that knows more about me.  I’m already seeing it with Facebook ads being infinitely better at advertising than any before it, but I think there’s still a long way to go.  I know a lot of people were laughing at Blippy, but I think we’re only seeing the beginning of the power of transparency.

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