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Money transferring made too easy?

Mobile payment provider Square may have just released the simplest solution for quick money transferring thus far. Joining the ranks of similar services, including Google Wallet, Venmo, PayPal, and Chase QuickPay, Square Cash allows users to send cash to anyone in the US directly via email at no cost. Other services have similar functionality, but Square Cash is the least complicated of the bunch by avoiding formal account registrations and downloaded applications.  In bypassing the standard detailed registration process, Square’s new system allows users to transfer funds via plain text emails directly between users. With a simple CC to cash@square.com, the process is simplified beyond a need for websites or applications. First time users must verify their debit card info on the Square website, but once completed, users can easily exchange money with plain text emails. Square has also provided a iPhone and Android app that automates the money transfer process, but they are primarily marketing the service as a quick process powered by email.

Right now users can send up to $250 per week without having to provide any info beyond their debit card information. To increase this weekly limit to $2,500, a few more personal details are required – full name, phone number, date of birth and the last four digits of their Social Security number. Alternatively, Square allows you to connect your Facebook account in order to increase the weekly transfer limit. The whole process is outlined handsomely on the product’s website.

While today’s mobile-minded users demand simplicity, it is often at the expense and oversight of potential privacy concerns.  A recent Zogby poll funded by PayPal and the National Cyber Security Alliance showed that of recipients, nearly 25% had no mobile password protection, more than 50% were comfortable fingerprint identification (despite security issues), and 45% were fine with automated facial recognition.  And in light of security concerns, some skeptics see Square Cash as a service ripe for scammers. The initial link requesting debit card account information repeats the hallmarks of classic phishing scams, linking to a website which will then request very personal data.  A sharp hacker could set up stylized emails and a website matching the look and feel of Square’s branding in order to funnel private information. A Square company representative commented on their close relationships with email providers and banking partners to ensure customer protection, but they also warned that customers should only accept money from people they are actually expecting it from.  With simple-to-use convenience at the forefront of most new technology trends, users today must be more vigilant than ever.

How does this free service help Square? The service already provides their flagship product, the Square Reader, to merchants at no cost, and this is another attempt to both raise brand awareness and jab at competitors like PayPal, one which has been providing free peer-to-peer since way back in 1999.  Square’s mission may not be particular innovative or even lucrative, as they are incurring the real costs of online money transfers, but they hope that this service will drive more users to their more profitable services.

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