Square has a new update out for its Cash app that lets users send cash by text, greatly improving the versatility of the mobile payment app. The update also improves the user interface for sending, reducing steps and increasing speed, and offers a host of new features like putting notes on payments and a new reward system that provides $1 each time someone you invite via text message signs up. The update also adds address book importing, profile pictures for user accounts, a unified email/phone contact listing and push notification/text message-based incoming transfer request approval.
Just when you thought PayPal-owned Venmo had the corner on fast and easy payments, Square dropped a new function in its Cash app — pay by text. With this update, people can send or request money from anyone in their address book just by using their phone number in addition to their email address. The resulting request will show up in a text message with a link to a payment page, where the person can pay. Some of you may be yawning. Pay by text isn’t anything new, you say. It’s true that in some countries, like Kenya, pay by text is a finely tuned network where payments are made sans app with flip phones — buying users everything from life insurance to groceries. In this way, the U.S. is woefully behind. As far as mobile payments go, Square and eBay (which owns both PayPal and Venmo) are the main game in town. There’s also Google Wallet, which focuses the majority of its business on mobile and online shopping, rather than peer-to-peer transactions. Though you can send cash to your friends via email in Google Wallet, debit and credit card transactions incur a 2.9 percent fee. Venmo and Square Cash are just about peer-to-peer transactions. Debit card transactions are free on both services, and Venmo enables you to send funds directly from a bank account (Square Cash does not).