President Barack Obama is no stranger to fundraising: his 2008 campaign drew a record-shattering $750 million in donations, and many expect his reelection efforts will result in a colossal war chest exceeding $1 billion come November. To aid in that lofty endeavor, Politico reports that campaign staffers with Android and iPhone handsets will soon be wielding Square credit card readers for collecting contributions on the go. Square units will allegedly be distributed to both Obama for America employees and volunteers nationwide, though a date for the rollout hasn't been pegged as of yet. While smaller political outfits have also turned to the plastic dongle for fundraising, Obama's White House will be the first to utilize the mobile payment technology in a presidential contest.I've been using Square to handle mobile credit card transactions for about a year now and I absolutely love it. The service works with my Android phone and almost instantly authorizes credit transactions and puts the money in my account within a couple of days (less their fee). I'd be curious to know if any special fee discount arrangements have been made for the Obama campaign. They normally charge 2.75% for swiped cards, and 3.5% for manually keyed transactions. I would think any other discount arrangements might constitute a donation to the campaign.
With the Square readers campaign minions could walk around rallies and accept cards on the spot for campaign donations. Square usually limits the number of devices on one account to 20, but they may be making an exception given the number of people involved in a campaign. I just wonder how many people will open their credit card statements and find they've contributed more than they planned to a campaign, or perhaps made a contribution they didn't even know about. The potential for fraud and abuse is pretty high in such an uncontrolled environment.
The other risk is that anyone can set up a Square account, so if they wish to pad their own coffers all they need do is sign onto their account rather than the official Obama campaign account. Any transactions would flow to their bank instead of the campaign. Maybe I should start attending Obama rallies to make a little extra cash?
The GOP should pay attention - using a mobile credit card device like Square is a good idea worth copying. Get on it.