Square just sent out notifications to its users about a brand new debit card called the (Square) Cash Card. And they did it, coincidentally enough, a couple of days after Apple announced their new Apple Pay Cash for Messages. But the Square Cash Card has one big differentiator from Apple’s offering.
While the timing seems odd given Apple’s announcement, Square’s Cash Card has been in the works for a while. Jason Del Rey, Recode’s E-commerce reporter, spotted it back in April after Square’s founder, Jack Dorsey, tweeted a photo of a black, Visa card. And earlier this month, some users received an invite for the card.
What’s different about it?
The card is not linked directly to your bank account (like Square Cash is). It’s linked only to the money that sits in your Square Cash account. When you receive money from someone using Square Cash, it already sits as a credit in a virtual account—similar to what happens with PayPal. You can then cash out the funds (transfer) to your bank account. But with the Cash Card, you now have the option of keeping that money in your virtual Square Cash account, then use the physical card to buy something in stores or online. And that’s the biggest difference between it and Apple’s service.
With Apple Pay Cash, there is no physical card. When you receive money using the service, you can also use it to buy things in stores or online, but only at places that accept Apple Pay. And while Apple Pay is a great service, it’s still not available in many common places you shop, like Target, Wal-mart, and more. So where you can go and buy things is still very limited. Conversely, the Square Cash Card is a physical Visa debit card. So you can go to any store—whether it’s a major chain or your local, corner store—and make a purchase. This is a huge differentiator, and the convenience should help Square stand out against not only Apple but other competitors like Venmo, too. And given that Square already has great relationships with small businesses, you never know how this could enhance their foothold with them, as well.
How do I get it?
First, you need have a Square Cash account (obviously). And you need live in the U.S.—as it doesn’t work overseas (for now). Next, you can either tap the notification you get on your phone or tap the My Cash button along the top of the Square Cash app—then tap Enable Card. You’ll see a series of steps, like verifying your name, address, and more. Then you’ll get a chance to add a name or a drawing that gets laser-printed onto the card. So instead of just a signature, it could be a smiley face or a social media handle from Twitter or Facebook. But before you get any sinister ideas of what you could draw, know that Square pre-screens what you add to the card. So your drawing may give them a good laugh, but it may not make it to your card.