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Square boosts mobile payments play with offers, digital punch card

Square has added new loyalty features to its applications for consumers and merchants, including an in-app punch card, with the goal of helping businesses attract new customers and drive repeat visits.

The mobile payments company continues to expand its offerings as it looks to help merchants and consumers leverage smartphones to enhance the shopping experience. In the latest round of updates, the company has launched new features for both Square Register, its app for merchants, and Pay with Square, which enables users to pay for purchases via their smartphone in stores and discover nearby businesses.

“Merchants can set rewards based on either number of visits or money spent at their location and when a customer pays with their credit card or Pay with Square app it automatically tracks their visits which appears on their digital receipt or in-app,” said Katie Baynes, a spokeswoman for Square, San Francisco.

“The new updates also enable merchants to offer first visit specials – which would appear in the Pay with Square directory,” she said. “So consumers can find nearby specials and try out new merchants.”

First visit specials
The new features are meant to help merchants create a deeper relationship with customers.

On the consumer side, the updates include in-app punch cards enabling users to track rewards from purchases at the various businesses they use regularly as well as a new interface for discovering new businesses.

Merchants are able to offer customizable punch cards and provide special offers including first visit specials.

The updates also include in-app reporting so merchants can easily access sales trends in real-time, customizable percentage and dollar discounts for any item or sale and an intuitive inventory library to easily create categories of items for easy access and sorting.

Active users
The news from Square comes at a time when consumer use of mobile apps for shopping-related activities is growing and merchants are increasingly adopting mobile strategies in their stores.

Square recently reported that more than 2 million small businesses now accept credit card payments with Square and that it is processing over $6 billion in annual payments (see story).

At the same time, more vendors are recognizing the growth potential  in mobile payments and are coming out with their own offerings. Square is updating its offerings in order to remain competitive in this very active space.

Square Register is the company’s latest app for merchants, which was introduced earlier this year as a follow up to Square Card Reader. The earlier app was primarily designed to process credit card transactions via an attachment for smartphones while Square Register offers a wider variety of merchant services such as tracking inventory.

The company reports that Square Register users are five times more active on a weekly basis than Square Card Reader users and they process approximately two times more revenue.

“These updates enhance the natural relationships that occur between buyers and sellers and enable businesses to connect with their consumers in a more organic way,” Ms. Baynes said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York