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The New Way To Pay Just Got Interesting

SquareThe tech edge that San Francisco holds currently has people jumping with joy or frustration. There are new things developing that could be wonderful or that could screw who the status quo of how we live. I had an interesting experience last week that I’m going to share with you.

Now you’ve heard me talk about San Francisco based Square as being a good ecommerce company. They don’t charge you anything up front. They send you a credit card reader for free and their software for the iPhone and Android is also free. The company even sends you business cards to pass out to get people to understand how Square works and they charge you only 2.75% per transaction with no transaction fee.

To put this in perspective a bit, Wife and I used to own a home based business. We had clients all over the country so credit cards were necessary for use to take. We were charged $800 for the software, then $35/month plus 35¢ per transaction fee, plus 3.5% on every transaction. We didn’t have a lot of business and our corporate clients worked off of invoices so if we only had one sale of $100 in a month it would cost us $38.85 just to get that $100 [or I would only get $61.15 out of every $100 sold]. With Square it would cost us only $2.75. If I didn’t have the credit card handy Square would charge me 3.5% of the total or $3.50 out of $100. Still a deal.

Looking through the app last week I noticed a large increase in the number of small businesses who were using Square and after downloading the new update it’s even easier to run on my iPhone since I can put in the individual items and they now show up on my iPhone, not just on the iPad.

I aslo received a phone call last week from someone at PayPal who was trying to sell me on PayPal‘s new PayPal Here service. I was kind of surprised as the phone number they called me on was linked to an old account I had made a mistake on. I had used it for donations for a website I used to run and as a joke I listed a donation as something that it turns out PayPal doesn’t want you to sell. It doesn’t matter whether or not there are large companies selling the same product I wasn’t, but I apparently broke their rules so I was banned for life from ever using PayPal again.

The guy on the phone told me it works, just like Square, but is cheaper. Well it’s only 2.7% vs. 2.75% and I’m not big enough that I’m going to complain over losing 50¢ on $100. PayPal is so much like Square that they made their card reader look like a triangle to keep with the geometric primitives angle. I told the guy that it was nice of him to offer this to me, but I had been banned for life from ever using PayPal again so I would have to pass.

Now when you are told that you are banned for life from using PayPal ever again you would think that this would mean that you just couldn’t use it to accept money. Well, you’re wrong. I had tried using PayPal in the past to purchase things from small companies on the internet and discovered that my bank account that was tied into PayPal‘s system was also banned from buying stuff from PayPal online. I happened to meet up with a friend I was telling this story to and he had the PayPal Here service so I told him I’d give him a buck if he let me try something. He pulled out his phone and plugged in the reader and I entered $1 and swiped my card. Guess what? My card was declined even though I had well more than $1 in my account. Why? Because I have been banned for life from ever using PayPal for anything [which they don’t tell you]. I would have to open a new bank account to get it hooked up with PayPal so that I could use the system. I don’t want to be bothered with that and I was told that if PayPal identified me as the same person that I would be banned again. It doesn’t matter if they really hire people to search for previously banned users of PayPal who want to be able to use it to pay for items. It’s fare too draconian an attitude for me to want to deal with.

Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter who started Square is a genius in my opinion. While they do have a few areas they don’t like to venture into sales wise they are pretty much an ecommerce company first that wants to make taking money from people for goods and services more affordable. If you’re a tech geek you can pull out your smart phone and run their Square Wallet app place your order while in line and just pick up your stuff at the counter or if you’re one of those people who doesn’t like this new technology because in my day they didn’t have smart phones and you had to tie two soup cans together with twine to call someone, you can use a regular old credit card. This is something that gives small businesses the edge. In looking around the USA I see that most metropolitan areas have quite a few places that accept Square. Not as many places as in the San Francisco Bay Area, but still a good amount. I can see this taking off in the near future even bigger and Square has a very big edge over PayPal in that it doesn’t shut out potential users from the system. PayPal has messed up big and if you do a quick search in google you’ll find lots of people complaining about being banned for life from PayPal. Square is the future and the way to go for small businesses.

An old joke in a new light

So there’s an old joke that I’m going to paraphrase to start this article that I heard years ago. It goes like this, I’ve written many books, but I’ve never been called an writer. I’ve sung many songs, but I’ve never been called a singer, I make one comment about a practice that’s destroying our oceans that a Chinese politician is in favor of and…. The original was funnier, but the end result is true.

Ever since I posted my articles on why the process of shark finning is bad for our ocean’s environment I have been called a racist by someone using Leland Yee’s twitter account, I have received telephone calls from his campaign managers and Saturday night, I start getting trolled once again on twitter by someone using the name @generic_ This person had a blog on Tumblr where they have passed themselves off as a straight, white, liberal, atheist. They even have a myspace page [really? myspace?] and have posted a picture of a, well, generic white guy. They also mentioned that they did the graphics for Necessary Conversations, a video blog or podcast that is hosted by Beth Spotswood and Melissa Griffin [who incidentally I was up against in the Best Local Politics Blog contest with SF Weekly]. When I look at the site I see that a Cameron Eng is listed as the being in charge of the graphics for the show.

NOTE: I have been informed by a reader that the person posting as @generic_ is not Cameron Eng and is indeed a male caucasian who is trying to win favor with Jim Stearns Group in order to get a job so he attacks anyone who says anything bad about a client of Stearns Consulting. My apologies to Cameron Eng for any possible inferences.  While I can’t say for sure that @generic_ is indeed Cameron Eng things at this point in time do seem to be pointing in that direction. I found out my information by dropping the URL into archive.org which is an interesting website for getting information on website histories. I still will be reserved on who the real identity of this person was, but I can say that I’ve never been called a racist by any person other than Leland Yee’s camp and @generic_ who from his posts seems to also be in favor of Leland Yee for Mayor, so I guess anyone who isn’t in favor of Leland Yee for mayor is a racist in @generic_‘s book. Which then means, Rose Pak can also ride in my racist boat along with Mayor Ed Lee and everyone else running for Mayor.

I would like to take this time to apologize to the citizen’s of California and San Francisco for my previous statements. I am sorry that only people of Chinese decent eat shark fin soup, but at the same time glad, because if the entire world consumed it our oceans would be in extreme danger. In the video I posted on Saturday, Gordon Ramsey noted that the shark fin collectors get $28/pound for the fins and $2/pound for the rest of the shark. There is only one dish made with shark fins and that is shark fin soup. Because it is expensive to purchase in a Chinese restaurant it makes it worth it to the fishermen to harvest only the fins and throw back the cheaper meat that no one wants. If you have a boat that could haul in a ton of sharks would you want to take the whole shark, or just the fins which would give you 14 times the value of the shark? You’d go for the fins.

I do agree with Leland Yee’s comment about AB376 that why not ban the entire shark and not just the fins? I believe they should ban fishing for sharks. The problem was that there are very few restaurants in California that have shark on the menu and very few places that you can even find shark meat for sale. Leland Yee’s camp and @generic_ sited the fallacy that you can buy shark meat at CostCo — You can’t. They haven’t sold it for over 10 years because no one was buying it. A trip to Lucky’s, Andronico’s, Whole foods and Safeway shows that there is no shark available in their fish departments. The people who authored the bill knew that and that is why they focused on the fins. Shark is even noted as a do not buy and unhealthy fish to eat by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch.

My comments have been focused on two things:

  1. 1. Shark finning is an outrageous practice that is causing serious damage to the oceans by depleting the top predator.
  2. 2. Shark meat in any form isn’t the healthiest meat to eat being high in methyl mercury due to ocean pollution. It is even recommended as a fish that you should not eat by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch.
This has nothing to do with Chinese people except for the fact that they are the only one’s that eat it. Other Asian cultures do don’t consume this dish. I am sorry if those of Chinese decent feel I am a racist for pointing out that the over harvesting of sharks is destroying our oceans as well as pointing out the fact that shark is not a healthy fish to eat.
The only thing good about all this is that @generic_‘s posting stopped at around 9:30pm last night. Most of them where attacks on me and one other attack on my fellow blogger Greg Dewar [also nominated in the same category as me for the SF Weekly web awards], but not once in Saturday’s stupidity did I once use the R word. As they say in poker, keep your cards close, know when to hold them, know when to fold them. Sometimes it’s best to not drop the race card too quickly.

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