Square looks set to play a big part in the 2012 US Presidential race, with both the Obama and Romney camps announcing this week that they will be adopting the tool to give their grassroots fundraising efforts a boost. The mobile payments company uses a small accessory that plugs into the headphone jack of an iPhone, iPad or Android phone and works with a companion app to accept payments from credit cards.
The Obama re-election campaign will begin using Square straight away, initially with campaign staffers and "some approved volunteers". But the ultimate goal is to develop their own Obama Square app that they can distribute on the App Store - allowing anyone to get the app and Square attachment and go around collecting donations. To comply with the Federal Election Commission's (F.E.C.) rules, the app will need to collect the name, address, city, state, ZIP code, occupation and employer of the contributor, along with contribution size and collection date.
If the Square rollout is successful, and others follow, campaigns could send out armies of volunteers brandishing the Square credit card reader and collecting millions of dollars in micro-payments from political supporters.
The Romney campaign similarly announced today that they will also be trialling Square and likely developing their own, Romney-themed Square app. They will conduct a "beta-test" of the Square app and accessory on Tuesday night's Florida primary election.
Daniel Rubin, strategic partnerships manager at Square, who works with political campaigns and major nonprofit organizations, said Square was partnering with a number of campaigns to make 2012 the year mobile payments change the way donations are collected on the ground. “It’s now easier than ever to give to campaigns of any political stripe,” Mr. Rubin said. “At a campaign, or any political event, donors will be able to give on the spot. They won’t have to run home and get a check or fill out long paper forms.”
[via The New York Times]