The Square Fairy will just debit it from your pocket
Square is the hot new kid at school, the Silicon Valley start-up most likely to be labeled "an upstart" or "disruptive." But I have to tell you, in the case of Square, the goofy jingoistic business lingo may be correct.
Square made its name as the company which offers a white cube shaped dongle that lets anyone take credit card payments. If you have a smart phone or a tablet with internet access, you can take payment by credit card just by swiping it through the little gadget.
I live in a remote rural area, and I was pleased to see that one of the nearby farm stands now accepts cards through Square. It's so modern of them - trust me, when you get out of the city, no one takes credit cards.
Square's next leap forward is going to involve Starbucks, and it will be happening very soon. The vision is that you can walk into any Starbucks with your cell phone in your pocket, and have your order added onto your tab. No cash involved, no need to hand over your card. Just tell them your name, and poof: your account is magically deducted the cost of your latte.
The first stage will be rolling out this fall. It will require you to hold your phone up to the sensor at the cash register. (This is similar to the way it works now, if you have a smartphone and the Starbucks Card app.)
In the next stage, if you have a smartphone with GPS enabled and the Square app installed, it will know that you have entered a Starbucks, and will automatically put the cost of your purchase on your tab. When you walk up to the register, apparently your picture will be displayed, and you will tell the barista your name and that you want your purchase put on your tab.
This helps to alleviate some of the security concerns that I'm sure a lot of people will have. After all, it raises the prospect of someone stealing your smartphone, then just walking into a Starbucks and buying a $600 espresso machine on your bill.
Of course, those of us who have been in the high tech trenches for a while remember the other attempts to create new currency systems. The day I can pay for a Starbucks latte with leftover Flooz will be a remarkable day indeed.