In this era of e-commerce and instant digital transactions, it really hasn't gotten any quicker or easier to send cash directly to another person. Sure, there are solutions, but they are complicated, require several steps and usually involve moving the money from a program to a bank account.
Square Inc., a San Francisco company that specializes in mobile payments, hopes to change all of this with Square Cash. The idea is to make sending money as simple as sending an email, and it could end up being a major disruptor in an industry currently dominated by companies like PayPal and Venmo.
All users need to use Square Cash is an email account and a debit card. It is a free service and doesn't even require setting up an account with Square.
"Square Cash makes it convenient to send money to anyone -- without making them jump through hoops to retrieve it," Brian Grassadonia, the leader of the Square Cash team, said in a press release. "Now it's easier than ever to split a bill, send a birthday gift or settle up with a friend, not matter where you are."
Here's how Square Cash works: Using any email client, a user simply composes an email to the desired recipient, CC's the email to firstname.lastname@example.org, puts the amount of cash in the subject line and clicks send.
The first time one composes or receives a Square Cash email, Square replies with an email prompting the user to enter his debit card information to link it with Square Cash. The transfer is made instantly, and the debit card information is stored with Square Cash to be used automatically in future transactions.
It's about as convenient as it could be without just tapping two debit cards together, but is it safe? Square doesn't make any mention in its press release of how it keeps debit card information safe, and it also assumes that users' email accounts are secure.
It's doubtful that statement will be enough to convert people who aren't ready to send out their debit card information in an email. What about hackers, or spoofing programs that can allow someone to send money from accounts that aren't theirs? Or if someone just leaves their email open?
There is also a big question of how Square Cash benefits Square. The company assures that Square Cash is completely free, but how will it make money?
Square hasn't yet responded to questions about Square Cash, but IBTimes will update this article if and when a statement is received.
If Square can assure users that Square Cash is safe, it's not hard to see how cool it would be. It would make it much easier for people with roommates to pay rent, or for parents to send money to their kids away at college. It could also help avoid ATM fees.
Square also released a Square Cash app, but it really isn't much more than a shortcut for composing an email.
Square was founded in 2009 by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey. Square claims to process $15 billion every year and made a deal with Starbucks (SBUX) -- which invested $25 million in Square -- in 2012 to process all of the coffee shop company's debit and credit card transactions. Like Twitter, Square is expected to make an initial public offering in 2013.