More NYC businesses opting for app-based registers
When customers hand over money at midtown cafe Je & Jo, owner Jonathan Baker never "rings" them up -- at least not in the traditional sense.
Since opening last year, Je & Joe has ditched the standard cash register for an iPad, a growing alternative for tech-savvy merchants who want a smoother time with transactions.
"A week before we opened, we still weren't set up to take credit cards," said Baker, who runs the shop with his wife, Jennifer Welser. "That's a problem."
But the pair learned about a free payment app called Square, which services more than 1 million merchants across the U.S. -- with New York City among its highest concentration of users, a spokeswoman said.
Every time a customer pays with a credit card, the business is charged a 2.75% transaction fee. Square now processes about $4 billion worth of transactions a year, CEO Jack Dorsey recently tweeted.
Shelly Palmer, author of "Overcoming the Digital Divide," said there aren't drawbacks for consumers who are asked to pay through app-based registers, however, it will take time for the technology to become more pervasive.
"It's still an unstoppable trend," Palmer said.
Another register app called ShopKeep charges $49 a month to businesses using its iPad-based system. The company hopes to attract 5,000 users by the end of the year, The Wall Street Journal reported.
With these apps, a card reader can be plugged into the iPad and synced to a receipt printer. The apps also keep track of the number of transactions made over time and what products are selling the most.
Baker said that's helpful in determining when to ramp up staffing.
For their part, customers with smartphones don't even need to take out money when paying. They can download the Square app and open up an account that stores their credit card info. When they go to a business that uses the app as well, their phones will send a signal to the merchant's iPad that can automatically charge their card with the push of a button.
Another Square user, Red Hook design company Foxy & Winston, once used an old-fashioned credit card imprint machine. But after all the frustrations, owner Jane Buck turned to Square, using her iPhone as a register.
"Customers get so excited when they see it," Buck said. "They think that's pretty amazing it's all I need."