Cash Registers Cashing Out?

By: Kara Tsuboi Email
By: Kara Tsuboi Email

August 4, 2011 -

Call them the cash registers of the future. A company called Square lets business owners turn their smartphones or tablets into registers. But not everyone is sold on this new technology.

The cash register at Gino and Carlo's Cocktail Lounge in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood out-dates most of the patrons.

"We love our register. It's solid, you can't pick it up and run away with it. It's reliable, it never breaks. It's simple, looks cool. My father used the same register when he was a teenager," says Marco Rossi, owner of Gino &Carlo's Cocktail Lounge.

But registers like these from the 1930s could make the endangered species list as more and more businesses favor modern technology.

Cheryl Burr, the owner of San Francisco's Pinkie's Bakery is testing out Square, a credit card reader that plugs into the audio jack of a tablet or smartphone for point-of-sale purchases.

"They have a lot of kinks to work out, but in general, it's a good program. The customers really seem to enjoy it. They think it's kind of a cool tech thing that we're doing and kind of adds to the buzz about Pinkie's Bakery," says Cheryl Burr, owner of Pinkie's Bakery.

But there are some drawbacks: Square takes 2.75 percent per transaction, there's no option for paper receipts, only email and text, and the system depends on a strong, reliable internet connection.

"We'll give it a chance for probably a full year and see how they can make more improvements. And if they don't, we may go back to the old way," Burr says.

"Square definitely has been making some strides. It's got the $4 million dollars a day in daily transactions. That's still a really small percentage of credit card transactions globally, but it's making headway," says Jessica Dolcourt, a CNET writer.

"Would you ever consider switching to something more modern? I don't see why. For what reason? We love our register!" Rossi says.

In San Francisco, I'm Kara Tsuboi, CNET.com for CBS News.


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