Square Cash, Square’s Venmo competitor that lets you use the app to transfer money to other people, has added a new feature to its iOS app that some might say is long overdue: users can now authenticate money transfers using the Touch ID feature in later versions of the iPhone (5S and up), and pay no fees when sending that cash. The feature is now live in the latest update to the app.
Apple has been making a lot of use of the Touch ID feature as a security authentication layer on its phone for things like unlocking the device, authenticating app payments and so on, but this is the first time that Square has integrated Touch ID into one of its apps. That’s not to say Square is a trailblazer in a bigger sense; it’s playing catch-up somewhat: Venmo launched Touch ID security authentication in November last year.
Back when Apple first unveiled Touch ID in 2013, Dorsey was positive on the technology, noting that it would generally help with storing sensitive information on the device but be a useful way specifically to improve Square apps like Wallet (“So for us it means that people are protecting their phone in better ways,” he said at the time. “And if it’s turned on by default, that’s great. That means mobile wallets like Square Wallet are protected naturally with a very human interaction.”)
The fact that Wallet is no more, and Apple itself has used the Touch ID for its own payment ambitions, speaks to how Square — which reportedly shelved plans last year for an IPO — has perhaps been needing to rethink not only what products it’s best positioned to deliver to consumers, but also what new tech is most usefully integrated into them. This could be one of the reasons why it’s taken so long to see a Touch ID integration into Cash.
It’s not clear how successful Cash has been, but money transferring apps are generally have been some of the more popular payment services on smartphones. Many are hoping that mobile handsets will be the focal point of the next revolution in how we buy things, but the reality is that we have yet to see true mass adoption versus, say, plastic cards or actual cash, to support that so far.
We are looking for and asking whether Square can share any numbers about how well Cash is performing and will update this story if/when we hear back or dig something up.