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Square Takes Their Fight Against PayPal Online

on Tuesday, Aug. 13th

Mobile payments have been a hot battle ground for years now. These are the systems that let you replace cash with phone app based transactions, or other trusted methods.

The brand in this space with the most tech-blog love is Square, brainchild of Twitter's Jack Dorsey, and purveyors of the little plastic dongles that are on sale everywhere from Apple Stores to Starbucks.

Today Square took the wraps off their latest initiative, Square Market, an online space where Square-using businesses can set up shop. Which pretty much makes this stage of the payment war a duel between Square and its biggest rival: PayPal.

Last year PayPal released its own little blue credit card reader to compete with Square's white, um, square one. By opening up a way for businesses to use their payment system online, Square has launched a counter-offensive onto PayPal's home turf. That overarching goal: the trust of businesses and consumers alike.

Both of the card-swiping are, essentially, legacy technology. The long-term play is to move consumers to a card-free experience, and there are plenty of other players in the market (Dwolla, LevelUp, Google Wallet, etc.) who are hoping people do exactly that.

In the meantime retailers have no real choice but to keep taking plastic, even if they want to move to a fancy wave-your-phone or say-your-name system that also offers lower fees than the credit card companies. There just are not enough consumers out there who have deeply bought into these systems.

It becomes a chicken and the egg problem. In my own personal experience I've avoided buying into any one of these systems from a consumer standpoint simply because none of them have reached critical mass. Until I can reliably leave my wallet at home, the cards are coming along with me wherever I go.

Follow Noah Nelson on Twitter (@noahjnelson)

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