Square wants to ease the anxiety many small merchants may feel around no-shows when they accept online appointments for their businesses.

The Square Appointments tool now has a Client Prepayments feature, enabling merchants to require customers to prepay at the time they book an appointment online.

The feature operates on the premise that it is harder for customers to abandon an appointment for a hair styling, makeup session, massage or other services if they have already paid in advance.

Client Prepayments help a business have a steadier cash flow, Square said. Other features include requiring clients to provide a credit card to book online, a prominent displaying of a cancellation policy and the sending of automatic e-mails and texts as appointment reminders.

Payments appear in the merchant's Square balance when the client books an appointment online and Square deposits the funds into the merchant's linked bank account; any changes to a prepaid appointment would require a manual adjustment from the merchant. With a declined appointment, Square issues a refund back to the original payment card and notifies the customer.

Transaction fees for accepting payments in advance are 2.9% of the transaction, plus 30 cents, Square said.

Last week, Square launched a flexible loans feature within its Square Capital program as part of a transition away from merchant cash advances to a loan program with an early repayment option.

Under Square Capital cash advances, Square receives a fixed percentage of a merchant's daily card sales as the repayment method. Square said it set up the flexible loan program in response to merchants using Square Capital who requested an opportunity to pay back the loan in a different time frame.

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