Square helping the everyday entrepreneur

I arrived in San Francisco yesterday (Easter Sunday) and my usual shuttle service to Santa Clara had some issues fulfilling my journey (some 1h45m wait). So I took a taxi. As soon as I arrived at my destination, and he knew I was a techie, he said: “Look, a San Francisco startup has this cool device that helps independent entrepreneurs like me accept payments by all kinds of credit cards.”

He didn’t know what the device was called, but I immediately recognised it as the Square app (I’ve recently written about this space). On an Android phone. Found it interesting during tipping: 15%, 20%, or 25%. No option to enter your own choice. Enter your email address for a receipt (there’s also a phone number option, which I am sure I can’t use). Then the taxi driver writes one physically for you as well. I presume the driver gets money in his bank account in a rather short period of time.

How did it use to work? A manual scan on carbon paper with a device the credit card company provided. Probably submit the receipt and get paid within a much longer period of time. Or it used to be plain old cash — most drivers would never accept a card, preferring only cash.

Square uses: CentOS, Puppet, Ruby, Graphite, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Redis. They also build the service on the JVM orchestrating Ruby on Rails, Sinatra, JRuby, MRI and Java. Incidentally, love the way they hire people — tell them what is required of them, then ask them to complete a task/programming example.