Thanks to the continued growth of credit cards, it’s easier than ever to get through the day without touching a dollar bill. As someone who prefers to keep as minimal a wallet as possible, it’s great news: I don’t have to carry around a big stack of cash that could be easily stolen, and it’s easy for me to track my spending without lifting a finger.
That’s great for interacting with merchants, but whipping out an AmEx to give a friend $20 isn’t exactly practical. So what’s someone to do if they want to make a person-to-person transaction, without using cash or check?
Square Cash, a service created by the popular payment processor Square, makes it easy to send cash between friends even with a wallet bereft of bills. Users sign up for the service with their bank account information, and after that, it’s possible for them to transfer or request money with a simple email.
Making a transfer with the Square Cash mobile apps is incredibly simple: Users input an amount of money, press the send button, and enter the email address of the person they want to receive the cash. If recipients choose to accept the transfer, Square will directly deposit the specified amount into their bank account, without charging any fees. After a few days, Square will automatically cancel the transaction so it’s not possible for recipients to unexpectedly pull money out of a sender’s bank account.
To help users keep track of their money, Square Cash will send email notifications over the course of the entire transaction, from when they first decide to send money to when the transaction completes. While all of the notifications are sent over email, the money is handled by Square’s secure servers, so users aren’t exchanging cash over unencrypted email.
In addition to sending cash, users can also easily request money from up to 25 people by pressing the app’s request button, or CCing email@example.com on an email with the word request and a dollar amount in the subject line. While there’s no guarantee that the recipients will send back the requested amount, Square provides requesters with a URL that allows them to check a list of who has paid up and who hasn’t, along with email notifications whenever someone decides to accept or decline a payment request.
I’ve used Square Cash to coordinate money transfers between my friends, and for the most part, that has been a seamless process. It’s definitely my preferred way to send cash between people I know these days, but the one frustrating hitch I’ve bumped into has to do with Square’s use of email.
I once accidentally sent $30 using a different email account than the one I have signed up with Square Cash, which meant that I needed to send a second email with the right address. To be fair, I definitely could have kept a closer eye on what email I was using, but part of the value I see in Square Cash is the ability to quickly send money without really thinking too hard.
At the end of the day, though, Square Cash is still my preferred app for transferring money between people I know. It won’t replace PayPal for sending cash to merchants, but it seems unbeatable for chipping in towards a party or paying a babysitter.
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