It took me one trip to the phone store and two calls to the help line to get my cute little square up and running today. At the phone store two young women, I’d guess eighteen and twenty something, helped me download the app to my phone. The younger one, Amanda, began the download, which took several minutes. Waiting, I said to Morgan, the older, I quit all this technology more than ten years ago and the last mobile point of sale terminal I used was a radio signal transmitter.
“Wi-fi?” queried Amanda. No, I told her, this was before Al Gore invented the internet. An actual radio signal carried the swiped credit card data winging to the processors and the approval back to my terminal. “Wow.”
I became an entrepreneur about the time credit cards were offering revolving credit, not thirty day terms. It was the wave of the future to a forty something weaver with goods to sell. We started with a knuckle buster, an imprinting machine, put the day’s slips into a glassine fronted envelope and took them to the bank to deposit.
Linda still uses her knuckle buster. She tells about a young man at the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts last summer who wanted to interview her about her knuckle buster. He was a Penn State student in a Business and Technology class who had never seen such a thing. Could she process a check with it? He took a picture of it to show his class.
I was not long at out of state shows to realize there is a class of lowlife who depended on knuckle busters to deprive craftsmen of both their goods and their money. We had a point of sales terminal on the wall in the studio by then, and every night I would call home on our 800 number and read the imprinted slips to my sister to key into the terminal. The few iffy cards I took were generally resolved by finding the person in the local phone book and straightening it out.
It was still a cumbersome enough process to look into mobile technology, and we undertook the expense of the radio terminal. The scalawags were more numerous by then, and I learned to look up from my terminal and say “Oh, dear. This card was declined. Do you have another one you might want to use?”
Or the time I looked up into the eyes of a handsome young college man, making about a hundred and fiftyish dollar purchase. “Oh, dear. My screen says I am to keep this card if I can and call the police as soon as you are out of sight. What should I do?” And he said, “Oh, that must be the card I reported as stolen and forgot to throw away. Here, use this one.”
That wonderful little terminal was the end of my credit card processing experience; I sold it to another artist and left the world of sales forever. I thought.
Now I want to process credit cards again, and got the little square and a no monthly charge plan for less than we used to pay for actual point of sale processing. Cute little bugger, isn’t it:
Pretty little app on my phone; that dollar sign there to the right of the middle row of apps. Who could ask for anything more?
After supper tonight I whiled away a few minutes reading my news feed. There was an article in the “picked especially for you” section. On October first, the new and improved EMV credit cards will be deployed by all banks. To convince merchants to accept them, the processors have adopted the expedient of shifting the liability for fraud from the bank to the retailer. As more and more customers pull out their Europay Mastercard and Visa (EMV) chip embedded plastic which is not swiped, savvy retailers will buy the new readers.
Card reading terminals will soon join knuckle busters. Oh, the irony of being drug into the post millennial era of credit card processing and obsoleted, all in the same afternoon.