The Salvation Army says it is too soon to know how effective Square Inc.’s mobile payment card reader might be in securing donations at its bell-ringer locations.
But if a recently launched pilot shows the terminal helps boost contributions, the organization may expand mobile payment acceptance nationwide, a spokesperson tells PaymentsSource, noting the Salvation Army is “exploring” various mobile-payment options.
Accepting cards using mobile terminals could offset the reality that more consumers are not carrying cash, the organization says.
The Alexandria, Va.-based nonprofit on Nov. 25 began accepting credit card donations at 10 locations each in San Francisco, Dallas, Chicago and New York as part of its annual holiday fund-raising campaign. Square supplied the organization with its card readers, and Sprint Nextel Corp. donated phones able to accept the payments using the reader, the Salvation Army says. The reader connects to phones through the audio jack.
The Salvation Army will cover the fee Square charges merchants, which is 2.75% of the transaction amount, a spokesperson for the organization says.
Square stickers affixed to the Salvation Army’s kettles alert passersby to the new mobile payment option, and the Salvation Army trained volunteers to process payments by swiping donors’ credit cards using Square’s app and reader, according to a spokesperson.
An earlier effort to gather street donations via credit cards failed. In fall 2009, the Salvation Army tried accepting donations with credit and debit cards nationally using 300 First Data Corp. wireless payment terminals in 100 cities (see story).
But the effort fell short of expectations, and the organization did not repeat it, the spokesperson says. “With the weather, the machines were a little hard to navigate,” she says.
Square CEO Jack Dorsey said in a Nov. 16 press release that his firm is pleased to help make it “easier than ever for people to donate” to the Salvation Army.
Square suggested the Salvation Army operate the test in cities where its technology has the highest adoption, the spokesperson says. “We think mobile payments might be a great way to reach people, but right now we’re just testing it out,” she says.
Separately, Citigroup Inc. signed on this year as the Salvation Army’s first-ever corporate sponsor for its 14-county Greater New York division. Citi is backing the holiday fund-raising effort by encouraging its customers to donate via promotional messages on 1,000 ATM screens in the New York area, a Citi spokesperson says.