The Transactions: Both companies accept American Express, Discover, MasterCard, and Visa, but Intuit also takes Diners Club and JCB cards. Square automatically initiates deposits within 24 hours of each transaction (on business days), and once initiated, that transaction may take a few business days to complete. On GoPayment, transactions are authorized in seconds, but it still takes funds two to three business days to be deposited into your account.
The Support: GoPayment offers live phone support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Square has an online support site and Twitter support (@sqsupport) but no phone assistance. Square says it responds to e-mailed questions within 24 hours.
The Security: GoPayment is Payment Card Industry (PCI)-compliant, adheres to online banking industry protection standards, and uses an https connection over SSL (Secure Socket Layer) at 128-bit encryption in both the swiper and the application itself. This means that credit card data can never be stored on the phone. It’s as safe as processing with a credit card terminal.
Intuit also addresses potential fraud by requiring merchants to apply for an Intuit Merchant Services account to confirm their legitimacy before processing transactions. Once the account is approved, the app is password-protected.
Meanwhile, Square’s security practices are the cause of some controversy. John Kindervag, senior analyst in security and risk management at Forrester, had biting words for the budding company. “Square seems to be more concerned with style than security,” he said. “The payments industry is much more complex than they anticipated. Quite frankly, not everyone should have a right to take credit cards.”
IDC practice director on payments and security Aaron McPherson shares Kindervag’s skepticism. Although Square is PCI-compliant, he says this does not mean the service is secure.
“Heartland Payment Systems, one of the largest acquirers in the country, was PCI-compliant when they were breached, and tens of thousands of card records were stolen,” McPherson explained. “When the current standards were introduced, no one imagined that merchants might be attaching card readers to phones,” McPherson said. “I expect a future version of the standards will close this gap.”
However, now that Square will be adding hardware encryption on the reader itself, the company may be fixing those same security gaps that spurred this criticism in the first place. It remains to be seen just how much of an improvement we can expect following Square’s partnership with Visa, but all signs point to a security system more in line with Intuit’s.
After researching and testing Square and Intuit GoPayment, it’s clear that they are quite different. GoPayment is more targeted toward the small business owner, and it offers a wider range of equipment, plans, and support for that type of client. Meanwhile, Square is better suited for the individual who doesn’t require as many extra features. That simplicity makes Square easier to set up and use. In the end, no matter which company ends up being a better fit for your particular needs, you still have the benefit of accepting payments untethered from the credit card terminals of years past. All you need is a phone, an app, and—of course—a customer.