Payments start-up Square has come up with a new app for ordering ahead at local restaurants and coffee shops.
With Square Order, you plug in your credit card information and search for nearby restaurants that use the company's existing mobile payments system. You can then browse the menu, pay for your order and have it ready for pickup when you arrive.
The app effectively replaces Square Wallet, which also allowed customers to pay with their phones, but only worked when you got to the actual store. It didn't allow users to order in advance, so it wasn't much more efficient than swiping a credit card. As Re/code reports, Square Wallet will still work, but it's no longer available from the iOS App Store or Google Play Store.
Square isn't really breaking new ground with its mobile ordering app. Many national restaurants have their own apps for making to-go orders, including Chipotle, Five Guys, Taco Bell and all the major pizza chains. Third-party apps from GrubHub, Delivery.com, Paypal and Tapingo also offer mobile ordering from smaller businesses that haven't built their own apps.
For Square, the advantage is that its payment system is already widely used by small businesses, so in theory it'd be easy for these businesses to start accepting transactions through Square Order. If businesses find this service valuable enough, it may keep them from jumping ship to a cheaper payment processing system in the future.
One potential snag, according to Re/code, is that Square will charge businesses 8 percent for order-ahead transactions, instead of the usual 2.75 percent it charges for in-store credit card transactions. The idea is that the feature will attract more repeat business while bringing in new customers who are just browsing the app, but the high rates could also scare businesses away.
Either way, it's clear that Square isn't giving up on the consumer side, between its new ordering app and its Square Cash app for money transfers. You can check out Square Order in the iOS App Store now, or sign up for the Android open beta.
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