Square Spreads to Local Business and Student Groups

Caroline M. McKay

An increasing number of local businesses and student groups are using Square to accept credit cards.

Inside the Stuff Sale tent earlier this year, members of Harvard Habitat for Humanity used iPhones and iPods to accept payments for everything from fans to furniture. Instead of withdrawing money, students wishing to purchase items for their dorm room were able to use credit cards, and sellers no longer needed to keep track of wads of cash.

Responsible for this transition? An inch-wide device named Square, which—when plugged into the headphone jack of a smartphone—allows any individual or business to accept credit card payments via a free mobile application.

Square, whose board of directors includes Former University President Lawrence H. Summers, has quickly gained prominence in the Harvard community as it allows students, organizations and local businesses to accept credit cards more easily.


From House Committees to student-run businesses, several groups on campus have latched onto Square to increase their sales.

Alisandrea A. Waldron ’13 serves as the Harvard campus representative for Square through the company’s SquareU program, which promotes use on college campuses. Waldron is one of 55 representatives at selected schools throughout the country.

Waldron has been promoting the device to students and organizations, including Habitat for Humanity and Harvard Student Agencies

As a SquareU rep, Waldron can provide interested users with the free product.

“It doesn’t cost anything to get a card reader, so if you need to take a payment and the person doesn’t have cash, Square enables you to do that,” Waldron said.

“I think all student organizations at Harvard could use Square to take payments for merchandise or dues. It is a great resource for students that can simplify the lives of financial directors in student organizations,” Waldron noted.

Indeed, the Mather HoCo is planning on using Square for House clothing orders this year. The product will coordinate all credit card sales to one bank account instead of having various members of the board collect cash.

“We had issues last year with our clothing orders, so we’re using Square to try to make it easier for the House,” said Mather House Committee Co-Chair Andrew F. Iannone ’12.

HSA used the product at Commencement last year during their tent sales, which sell logo apparel to the visiting throngs. HSA President Ethan A. Waxman ’12 said the tents had been a growing part of their business, but they found more of their customers wanted to use credit cards.

Before Square, HSA members would use carbon paper to record credit card information. The organization lost sales, however, since some credit cards would get declined.

Waxman said the HSA will not use the device in the Harvard Shop year-round due to the lack of an inventory management system that they have built into their current system.