The Square Cash Disappearing Act

Square Cash is a great service – it allows you to send money via an email with no service charge if you’re using your debit card. You can receive money without entering a PIN. I use it all the time to divide up restaurant bills among my friends. That said, I found a usability issue yesterday that I wanted to share.

I needed to link my debit card to the app, so I followed their very simple instructions for entry. 

The first screen asks for the card number. The number pad is telephone-order rather than number pad-order. This is on a phone, so that makes sense even if I’m much more used to entering these numbers using a keyboard.

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Next, the expiration date. On my card, the expiration date is 09/16/2016*, so I start to enter it.

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Here is the screen as you start to enter the date:
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I then proceeded to enter 09/16 as I looked at my card, then the CCV, and got an error message about an incorrect card number. Tried again. Same. Did this four times before I realized that the expiration date was month/year. It isn’t as though I’d never seen this, or been asked to enter just the month and year from a card, so I thought hard about what tricked me.

I concluded it was the difference between the second and third screens – the guidance is there before you start typing, but as soon as you put in any number for the date, the guidance disappears. Since I was looking down at my card, I just entered what I saw and didn’t think enough to check – especially since it called for ##/##, which matched the month and day on my card, not ##/####, which could only be a month and year.

You are welcome to blame the user for this one, but it would be a small fix to keep the background guide visible during entry.

*No, I’m not dumb enough to put my real card number or expiration date in the pictures for this post. 🙂