The Girl Scouts of America have a new weapon in their cookie-selling armoury this year thanks to technology from Sage which enables them to accept card payments through mobile phones.
Sage says it has signed up 32 Girl Scout Councils in 23 states, representing more than 40,000 troops, to its mobile payments system, which comprises a card reader that attaches to handsets and a mobile app.
The vendor claims that by using the technology at cookie booths, the Girl Scouts of North East Ohio troops have seen at least a 13% increase in their sales, while troops not using the technology have experienced flat sales.
Carol Smith, leader, Girl Scout Troop 24 in Solon, Ohio, says: "Using Sage Mobile Payments is a great way for our girls to use technology to sell additional boxes of cookies. This is an example of something we teach our girls; using technology is a way to empower themselves."
Last year the Girl Scouts used similar mobile phone-based card reading technology from Square and Verifone. However, Marianne Love, programs director for the Girl Scouts of North East Ohio, which used Intuit, says "we experienced some customer service issues with our previous provider".
One potential benefit of accepting card payments was demonstrated over the weekend when a group of Girl Scouts selling cookies outside a Wal-Mart in Fort Bend County, Texas were confronted by thieves who stole their cash.
According to local press reports, two men approached the stall pretending to be interested in making a purchase but then swiped a box containing around $200 before jumping in a car. The girls put up a fight, hitting one of the thieves but the men got away. Police are now examining CCTV footage.