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At Local Businesses, a New Way to Pay

Sam Penix at Everyman EspressoIan Duncan Owner Sam Penix makes a coffee at Everyman Espresso. Customers now swipe their credit cards through an iPad to pay

When web designer Matt Norris wants a coffee at Everyman Espresso, he doesn’t reach to his pocket for cash or a credit card. With a quick few swipes on his iPhone and a look at the barista he has paid and his drink is on its way to being made. For the barista’s part, he just looks Mr. Norris in the face, confirms his identity and the transaction is complete.

Everyman, on East 13th Street, is an early adopter of Square, a mobile-based payment system developed by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey. The company’s name derives from the little square card reader that connects to a merchant’s (or anyone’s, for that matter) iPhone or iPad, turning it into a payment device, an approach a number of other companies are also taking. In May, Square launched its new product, the card case, which stores regular customers’ details and allows for flesh payments like that made by Mr. Norris for his coffee.

Following in the footsteps of a reporter from Fast Company, I tried out Square at Everyman, opting for the more conventional method of swiping my card. It works pretty much as you might expect: run the card through the white plastic reader, which connects to the iPad’s headphone jack, and sign using the touch screen and a finger. That last part was a little awkward – the result was a childlike scrawl that only loosely approximated my signature, but it was apparently sufficient for my bank.
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The No. 1 Ho Fun Caper

Lower East Side,New-York-City-2011-03-05-026Vivienne Gucwa

On a recent Saturday night, I put my ugliest sweater on over my most sequined top and went out to a new bar in Alphabet City.

This bar was so hip it did not even have a name on its door or façade. Inside there were chandeliers. The wallpaper choice was a velvet fleur-de-lis pattern. There was a large portrait of a pink cocktail that was lit from behind. The bouncers were thin, glamorous, and female. I pointed to the cocktail portrait and asked for one, on ice.

While I waited to give my credit card to one of the two young, pouty Frenchmen behind the bar I admired the postage stamp picture of myself on the corners of the plastic square I was about to hand over. I’ve had the same credit card picture since I was 15 years old. In this portrait, I had just gotten my braces off and my smile seems wide enough to stretch across all eight digits of my account number. It’s quite adorable, and I get a lot of compliments on it, but the bartenders, who looked scarcely older than I was in the photograph appeared to take little notice.

Oh, well, I thought.  It was probably too dark for them to realize what they were missing. I took my drink and descended a wooden set of steps in search of the dance floor.
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