Square Updates

San Francisco-based startup Square has stepped up the functionality of its mobile transaction application for business owners. The newest version of the app, which was announced today, enables businesses to offer rewards to loyal customers at the point of sale, among other updates.

Here's how it works. The new version of the app automatically tracks how often individual customers visit a store and how much they purchase, enabling merchants to define what makes a "loyal" customer (say, 10 visits over 30 days). Using the app, merchants can then set up a reward program based either on number of visits or the amount of money spent. The merchant is notified automatically when a "loyal" customer enters the store and a merchant can offer a discount when the purchase is being made.

About 800,000 merchants have signed up to use Square and they have processed more than $2 billion in payments in the past 12 months. This update -- called Square 2.2 -- can spell opportunity for Square users to create more loyal customers, and more business.

"For coffee shops, as an example, their loyal customers are usually people who are coming in frequently, while a hair salon might want to reward customers based on how much money they spend rather than how frequently they come in," explains Megan Quinn, Square's director of products.

The update is available for iOS and Android smartphone users, Square says.

Other new features enable Square to integrate wirelessly with a business's cash drawers and a receipt printer, allowing a cash drawer to open when the merchant taps "tender" on the app and to print branded receipts. Improvements to its search functions allow businesses to better track sales history, resend receipts and provide refunds from their point of sale system, Square says.

The unveiling of Square 2.2 comes on the heels of an update made earlier this month to Square's Card Case app. Using the positional information in a user's mobile phone to define a virtual boundary called a geofence, Card Case allows users to open a virtual "tab" -- an account that opens automatically at any business that uses Square's credit card reader and POS software.