The 5YO had an interesting idea tonight: “Devices should have slots that you can put real-world money into.” I explained that it wouldn’t be practical because someone would have to go around collecting it, and meanwhile your phone or tablet would get weighed down by all those quarters or bills. Then I brought up Square and similar card readers that you can hook up to your phone. I’m sure he’s seen us use them, even if he didn’t make the connection at the time he was thinking about the coin slot idea.

Thinking about it, though, why not use something like Square to power online purchases as well as point of sale transactions? Instead of setting up an account and entering a password to buy something, swipe your card. Or swipe a debit card to authorize adding value to it. Katie suggested taking it even further: directly add value to a cash card!

Mobile payments are mainly looking for ways to eliminate the physical card. Card readers are mostly being used to allow sellers to accept physical cards on the new infrastructure, but the technology could easily be adapted to give online buyers another payment – or banking -option.