As Silicon Valley looks towards a cashless, card-less future, Square‘s latest move is a bit of a throwback.
The mobile payment company is launching a debit card — or rather, a prepaid balance card — that connects to the company’s app rather than a bank account, Recode first reported.
The slick, all-black Visa gives customers a new way to unload the balance accrued from exchanges within Square’s money-transfer service.
It also lets holders forgo the one-day delay — or one percent instant-access fee — that otherwise restricts access to freshly received funds.
Square (and Twitter) CEO Jack Dorsey teased the release in a tweet last month, and the company sent order forms to at least some Square Cash users this week.
It seems the lettering on the face of Dorsey’s pictured card isn’t just an executive perk; the company is asking prospective cardholders for a custom signature that will be similarly laser-printed in place of a typed name. (Recode reports that submissions are screened for inappropriate words or drawings.)
Fancy design touches notwithstanding, the move seems a bit counterintuitive for a company firmly rooted in the digital space.
It comes after Square launched a similar virtual debit card for online shopping last year in a bid to expand the app’s reach.
The plastic version may be an attempt to set Square apart from competitors currently jostling for control of the digital money-transfer market like Paypal-owned Venmo. Perhaps the company wants people to start treating their app balance more like a bank account.
Or it’s possible Square is simply trial-ballooning the old-school option to see if certain people might be more comfortable with something they can hold in their hand.
Consumers have generally proven more reticent about switching to offline transactional mobile payments than the industry had hoped. Those who aren’t sold on going digital usually cite security concerns and the fractured nature of the space as turnoffs.
Physical cards could be a way to ease them into digital personal finance.