Here’s how it works: you send someone an email and CC email@example.com. In the subject line you put in a dollar amount (nothing else) and whatever you wish in the body of the email.
Next, the sender gets an email asking how to get the money out of their bank. There’s a link in the email to a web site with a custom hash in the url. Debit card is the only option right now, so they simply ask for your card num, expiration, etc. This does not require any kind of special account, it’s more like buying something.
Next the person you wrote to gets an email from Square asking them to go to a special URL. On that URL they ask you how to access your bank account. This can be done either by debit card, or putting in your bank routing number etc.
I experimented with this, sending $1 from one of my email addresses to another. They took the money just fine, but I had a small hiccough receiving. I tried to do the routing number path and it failed. There was no error message, it simply changed the submit button to unclickable.
I opened up firebug and watched the ajax call and it said my bank info was invalid. It would have been nice to see that on the front end though.
I switched to receive via debit card and it worked just fine. The web site said I’d get the money in 1-2 days, but I actually got in in a matter of hours.
There a few interesting points in the license. For example:
It may not be used for (i) commercial payments.
Are you a web developer? Want to make a little form so people can easily pay you with this model? It’s against the license agreement.
Account as a result of a Payment Instruction and it is determined that such transfer was improper because it was not authorized by the Sender, there were insufficient funds in the Sender’s account, or for any other reason, then you hereby authorize us to withdraw from your Eligible Transaction Account an amount equal to the amount of funds improperly transferred to you.
This means they can take money out of your bank at their discretion. That’s a little spooky.
Senders may not send more than two thousand five hundred dollars ($2500) in any one transaction or over any rolling seven (7) day period using the Service.
This may or may not impact you, but it’s handy to know it’s there.
All in all I think this is a very interesting project. I’m wary of using a service that can take money out of my bank whenever they wish, but technically just about anyone that has your debit card can do the same.
I’m sad that people can’t pay me with this, it makes it more of a novelty for me than a really useful tool, but perhaps it’ll change.