Whether you like it or not, the familiar ring of the cash register may be going the way of the dodo. Today, people use debit cards more than ever, and having cash on hand is definitely more of a rarity. On top of that, buying a cash register for your business can be pricey, and integrating a register into your system with a separate credit card machine gets expensive – don’t forget about the high price per swipe charges the credit card processing companies charge. It’s quite the racket, and it puts significant strain on any small business owner.

But what if we told you there was a way to accept credit cards for your business, pay low fees, and replace your cash register, without even having to sign a contract? You’d tell me I was a crazy man with a funny hat, and you’d only be half right.

There’s an easy way to turn your iPad into a point of sale (POS) terminal, and we’re going to show you how to do it right now!


Start With Square

Before you can start swiping cards on the go, you need to sign up with Square. What’s Square you ask? It’s this. The guy who started Square is Jack Dorsey, who you may know as one of the people who founded twitter.Square is a personal credit card reader that plugs into your iPad or iPhone’s headphone jack. Download the app to your iOS device, plug in the Square reader and you’re ready to process credit cards.

OK, you’re not totally ready yet. You need to sign up for Square’s service, which involves a few different processes. You’ll have to register a bank account, enter your personal info, and then agree to the terms.

Right now, Square takes 2.75% for every swiped card, and 3.5% + 15 cents for a manually entered number, which is cheaper than many other traditional credit card processing companies.

Once you’ve filled out the important paperwork, it’s time to wait for the reader to show up in the mail. In the meantime, as soon as you’re approved you can process credit cards on the spot by entering them manually, and it takes just a few days for the payment to show up in your account. Not too shabby.

Setting Up Your Terminal

Once you’ve got your Square reader and your iPad has the app loaded up, it’s time to personalize the app to work for your business. First up is establishing your tax rate, which is going to vary from city to city. If you run a coffee shop or other business where you accept tips, plug in that option as well – that way, people can pay and tip you with one transaction. Now, it’s time to enter your items.

This is the tedious part of the process, depending on the size of your product line. Going back to the coffee shop analogy, let’s suppose that you sell chai tea, hot chocolate, and four different blends of coffee. Hit the plus sign to add each item and put down the specific requirements.

If you have images, or you want to use some taken by your iPad 2, just plug those in – it’s just like you’re adding a new person to your address book. The images become the buttons, making it easier to see items at a glance while you’re taking an order. And, if you don’t have a picture, choose a label color and the button is created with the first two letters of the item in the center, pleasantly similar to the Photoshop dock icon.

Put It in Use

Now it’s time to setup the iPad in your shop. We could spend hours talking about different types of iPad stands, but all you really to do is find one that works for you – and is secure enough that the iPad won’t get stolen. Plug in the Square and you’re ready to take some orders!

Here’s how you use it: Customer walks in, orders two coffees and a donut. On the bottom of the app is a dollar sign and a circle. Swipe to the side to get to the circle, then push the icon for coffee. Hit the plus sign next to the price, and the quantity and price total up at the top of the screen.

Touch the donut icon and when everything is good to go, touch the charge button. You can choose cash or credit, so touch credit, then swipe the card in the Square reader. Hit authorize and the process starts.

So how does the customer get a receipt? Email, that’s how. Just ask them for their email address and it gets sent off right away, including a Google map of where the purchase was made. Oh and the signature? They sign with their finger. Pretty cool, right?

How It Adds Up

There are other options for your iPad POS terminal needs, but for my money, Square is the way to go. Not only is it portable between iPads, but also between iPhones as well. This opens up a whole world of different business options.

For example, I’m a writer and photographer and I often find myself making sales in a place other than my office. All I need is my iPhone or iPad and my Square reader and I’m good to go.

Maybe I’m out to lunch with my buddies and everyone wants to pay the waitress with a credit card. No worries, I pay the waitress with my card and then my friends pay me with their credit cards using the Square reader. It doesn’t get much more convenient.

You could make the argument that the cost of the iPad overrides the savings from the cash register and credit card machine lease, and you would be right – to a point. At some time in the future, your lease will still be going and you’ll still have to pay every month. The iPad will have paid itself off by then, and now it’s all profit.

If you need a POS terminal for your business, give the iPad and Square a shot. It’s worked well for me, and you might find it’s the perfect fit!


By Rubens Saintel

Proud father, #Haitian, photographer, consultant, writer & entrepreneur. I love video games, movies, plays, technology (surprise), beta testing apps and all things sci-fi. SaintelDaily.com |AppleWatch101.com | NBA101.com