Over the past year, Square has been busy staking its future on an ever-growing, ever more far-flung portfolio of small-business services–everything from cash advances to customer surveys to a better way to order coffee. Now Jack Dorsey’s commerce startup is rolling out something which is just a straightforward and sensible extension of its original mobile payment service: the ability for any merchant that uses the Square Register point-of-sale app to sell gift cards to its customers.
Other companies already let small businesses offer gift cards, so as with just about everything Square does, the idea is to take something that can be complicated, make it as simple as possible, and integrate it with its other services. Merchants can use Square Register to order cards from Square, with either a stock image or one they’ve designed and uploaded. Each card costs the merchant $1.50, and can hold a maximum of $1,000 of funds (a legal requirement, not a limitation imposed by Square).
When a customer buys a card, Square transfers the full amount to the merchant’s account the next business day. Then it can be swiped with the Square Reader, just like a credit or debit card. The service sounds like a much more sophisticated approach to gifting than the handwritten paper certificates I still see in some local shops, and Square is getting it out the door just in time for the holidays.