The day before his St. James Street Visions store started carrying the Square credit-card reader, manager Kelly Armstrong had occasion to pay a photographer using the simple device.
"She pulled it out, put it in her iPhone (and) swiped my card through. It took payment right then and there, I got email notification instantly on my phone," Armstrong said.
"It was very simple and painless."
Recently, Visions and Shoppers Drug Mart started carrying the small square device that attaches to the audio jack of any smartphone or iPad and seamlessly accepts credit-card payments. The $10 device -- Square deposits $10 back into your account after your first transaction, so the price is fully rebated -- has been available in other Canadian retailers for a year.
The increased presence of the clever device is part of the strategy to increase its availability.
Winnipeg custom-made men's wear operation, Eph Apparel, is one of Square's star merchants. The young company runs all its sales through Square's platform, including a storefront operation on Garry Street, and has more than a dozen salespeople on the road across the country.
Alex Ethans, one of Eph Apparel's three partners, said the cool, hip vibe of the system suits his business, but more than that there are a suite of analytic tools that adds value to the management of its operations.
"We can log onto the Square.ca website and see who is doing what each night and how money is coming in from every city," he said.
"It's great to get monthly reviews to see what we have done and where we did the best. It tracks everything nicely."
Square is a fairly new company and its service offering is growing. This year, it expanded the number of credit cards the system accepts to include Diners Club and Discover cards as well as Visa, MasterCard and American Express.
Eph Apparel runs all of its transactions through the Square platform even though it does not yet support debit cards.
Not surprisingly, that's in the works.
Semonti Stephens, a spokeswoman for Square, said, "We are always looking to give business owners the tools to make them successful. We currently do not support debit in Canada, but we are working at building that functionality."
In the meantime, the company is expanding its service offering. Early this year, it was able to start clearing transactions in Canada much quicker so sellers receive payment in their bank account within two business days.
Just this week, it started offering a free tracking tool that allows businesses to track items in stock in real time as sales are made from the Square system.
Square's simple billing structure -- it's basically free to use except for a 2.75 per cent per transaction fee -- makes it attractive for all sorts of small and occasional users such as independent contractors, farmers market merchants or anyone with occasional sales.
Ethans said he's heard of it being used by poker players for payment by that night's losers.
Recent service additions beef up the depth of the offering, making it a viable option for larger operations.
One U.S. analyst was quoted on a trade website recently as saying, "With order-ahead, offline mode and inventory tracking, Square is finally starting to look like a real point-of-sale system."
Stephens said, "It's because of these advanced tools (that) business owners are really attracted to the services Square has to offer."