Thin Mints! Samoas! Mobile Credit Card Systems! Girl Scout Cookies Go High Tech

Armed with iPhones capable of processing mobile transactions, Girls Scouts in Southern California will soon be knocking on doors, ready to take your order. Don’t even try telling them you don’t have any cash on hand.

Girl Scout iPhones


Girl Scout Cookies can now be purchased by credit card thanks to mobile card processing tech and iPhones. Previously the iconic wafers could only be bought with cash. It’s a nice move for the Girl Scouts, good news for anyone who has ever swooned before a Thin Mint, and it’s a taste of the future of digital payments.

Girl Scouts have been in the U.S. for 99 years, and for over 80 of them the Girl Scout Cookies program has been an important vehicle for raising funds–the Scouts call it the “largest girl-led business in the country” which “generates immeasurable benefits for girls, their councils and communities nationwide.” It’s certainly a large-scale program–it generates some $700 million in revenues. But it’s also a program that’s been bound by tradition, but is now adapting to our contemporary digital lifestyle: Starting this week a number of troops in San Diego are accepting credit card payments via iPhones.

Yup–it’s true, you’ll soon not be able to use the excuse “I don’t have any cash on me, sorry!” when the Girl Scouts come a-knocking with their sugary wares. Groups of them will be toting iPhones wrapped in Mophie’s Marketplace credit card-reader case and running Intuit’s GoPayment system, turning each Scout vendor into a tiny, mobile credit card processing machine. We’ve written about both of these companies before–together they act in a similar way to Jack Dorsey’s Square system, letting iPhones read credit cards via a plug-in peripheral and process the transaction through a secure app. When you buy cookies you’ll swipe your card, then be required to sign your signature with your finger on the touchscreen.

And while we were mostly kidding about consumers not being able to white-lie to the girls, for the Girl Scouts organization, this isn’t a joke–it sees the tech as a way to increase sales, as well as teach the girls themselves about advanced technology and how credit and modern banking systems work.

We see it as yet another sign that 2011 is the year that digital payments systems totally overhaul the credit card/debit card payments system–whether it’ll be by bridge technologies like Mophie’s (which links old card tech to modern smartphones) or the more advanced NFC wireless tech we expect Google and Apple to embrace this year.

To read more news like this, follow Fast Company on Twitter: Click here.

About the author

I'm covering the science/tech/generally-exciting-and-innovative beat for Fast Company. Follow me on Twitter, or Google+ and you'll hear tons of interesting stuff, I promise.