Square has decided to throw in the towel on the Square Wallet app it introduced in 2011. Originally designed to help customers quickly pay for items at local merchants using only a smartphone, Square Wallet ultimately failed to catch on. Even support from coffee giant Starbucks wasn't enough to bring the app mainstream adoption. Many people were trapped in their routines and kept paying for their morning lattes with the regular Starbucks app, never even noticing there was an alternative.
With Wallet failing to match the momentum of Square's credit card reader — a proven hit with small businesses — the company is revising its consumer strategy. Today it's pulled Square Wallet from the App Store and Google Play and quickly replaced it with Square Order, another mobile wallet app that first went into testing several months ago. The formula isn't all that different from Square Wallet, but it's been streamlined and simplified without the cruft.
Replacing one wallet app with another
Square Order lets you order ahead at local businesses and skip the lines when you eventually head to pick up your purchase. The new app will automatically notify you when your order is ready, and the company notes that its service can be used by businesses both big and small. Whole Foods is participating in San Francisco, one of two cities where you can use the app starting today. New York City is the other launch market, and the company is asking users to make suggestions on local businesses they think would make a good fit.
Square will continue to support Square Wallet for existing users. In an emailed statement to The Verge, a spokesperson said, "We have customers using Wallet every day and we're not abandoning them." Square also says it "will be building the magic of Wallet into Square Order." So if any features you liked were lost in the change, there's a chance they'll eventually return. Square Order and other consumer projects like Square Cash clearly represent the road forward, and that white, plastic card reader remains hugely popular and visible across the US. But right now, there's still a landing page for Square Wallet at Starbucks — a reminder of just how challenging mobile payments can be. Even for the company that built its business around them.
Update May 12th, 10:40AM: The article has been updated with a quote and more details from a Square spokesperson.