Following an invitation-only test, Square has opened up its free e-mail-based person-to-person payments service, Square Cash, to the American public.
To send money, users send an e-mail to the recipient's address, CC'ing email@example.com and putting the dollar amount in the subject line. The first time the service is used, the sender receives an e-mail from Square prompting them to link a debit card that funds their payments.
Recipients also have to link a debit card the first time they are sent money, with the funds deposited straight into their bank account, rather than held in a stored balance account.
The service is free to use for both parties and works from any e-mail client. Android and iOS apps have also been built, letting customers keep Square Cash on their homescreens and send e-mail payments from a customised interface.
Brian Grassadonia, Square Cash lead, says: "Square Cash makes it convenient to send money to anyone-without making them jump through hoops to retrieve it. Now it's easier than ever to split a bill, send a birthday gift, or settle up with a friend, no matter where you are."
Square's move into P2P payments sees it stake a claim on rival PayPal's home turf and also competes with a similar service from Google, which has integrated its Wallet app with G-mail for money transfers.
A survey released by Fiserv yesterday suggests that there is a strong potential market in the US for simple P2P payments. While cash and cheques still dominate, the vast majority of respondents say that they would welcome an electronic alternative.