Mobile payment company Square introduced a new service yesterday (Oct. 15) called "Square Cash," which lets you send money over email (as well as via a new Square Cash app for iOS and Android).
My immediate reaction to this news was, "So what?" There are a number of services that already offer this functionality, such as PayPal, HyperWallet and personal bank email transfers.
The real advantage to using Square Cash is that it eliminates any intermediate steps. Users don’t need to link their bank account, download an app or sign up for an account. The process is as simple as sending an email to the recipient, CC-ing Square Cash, and entering the amount of money you want to send in the subject line. Another big advantage, of course, is avoiding the service fees associated with existing bank email transfers.
Advantage to Square Cash: no intermediate steps or service fees.
If either recipient or sender has not used the service before, they will be redirected to a web page where they provide their debit card number, expiration date and billing zip code. Both parties must do this and then the money is deposited directly into the recipient’s account without being placed in a secondary holding account.
It sounds too easy, which makes me feel skeptical. "The product is 100 percent secure. Nobody is going to get taken advantage of via spoofing,” said Square Cash lead Brian Gassadonia, as quoted by The Verge. But I didn’t read any specific details on what their security measures are. In theory, the process sounds great, but personally I'd like someone else try this out for a while before using it to make a transfer of my own.
The Problem: It sounds too easy. Emails get hacked all the time.
Emails get hacked all the time and without knowing the security measures within this service, it’s hard to say how this would affect the service. It seems as though all that’s required to send/receive money is to enter in your debit card number on the Square Cash website. I wouldn’t imagine that the card information would be shared between the recipient and the sender, but it would be stored by the website. If there was a way to retrieve your card information using your email address, then I imagine there would be a security risk if a user’s email was compromised.
And even then, there still IS an intermediate step each time you send an email money transfer: Each party has to confirm his/her debit card number.
Ultimately, consumer usage of Square Cash will determine just how good the service actually is. There will undoubtedly be questions and concerns over security and whether this is any better than existing services, so it will be interesting to see how quickly and how many people get on board.