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Square has unveiled its newest product Square Cash, a service which allows users to send mobile payments from debit card to debit card using only email, but should lawyers use it?
This question has considerable impact for solo practitioners and small firms, whose client base may consist of many small clients who are often behind on their payments.
Lawyers using Square Cash won't have to wait for checks in the mail, but other features of this payment service make using it for lawyers' fees questionable.
No Cards, Just Debit Information
Square Cash isn't the first online payment service to hit the scene. Lawyers who use Invoiceable or other invoicing apps and software may have already been accepting digital payments via PayPal.
One difference between Square Cash and PayPal is the ease of the transfer service. According to the Los Angeles Times, users simply need to send an email with the amount to be paid in the subject line, "CC" firstname.lastname@example.org, and have both the sender and recipient confirm their debit card information.
There are no accounts -- even if you use the Android or iOS app -- and even email users only need to enter their information once to have a debit card linked (for payments and deposits) to an email address.
When we listed Square as an option for law firms in 2012, we remarked that its main limitation was a need for a manual card swipe. Square Cash seems to have broken free of that limitation, but what are the consequences?
Fraud, Record-Keeping, and Security Worries
The first practical worry is, according to the Times, that even when a user gives Square Cash access to his or her Facebook account or other verifying information, the maximum one can send through Square Cash is $2,500 per week. Depending on your hourly rate, this may be a non-starter.
In addition, Square Cash transactions leave no paper trail save the emails you receive, and like the notorious Bitcoin, you may not have any idea where the money is coming from. This could be especially troubling for criminal defense attorneys.
And although Square Cash has no service fee for use -- unlike its card-swiping older sibling -- according to The Wall Street Journal, it also lacks any ability to cancel a mistaken or fraudulent transaction.
So while Square Cash may work great for paying friends back for dinner, lawyers may need to put significant trust in Square that client payments -- even small ones -- are coming from a legitimate account.
Have your own worries about Square Cash? Join the discussion on Facebook at FindLaw for Legal Professionals.