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. 🙂

One thought on “The Square Cash Disappearing Act”

  1. In my wallet right now are four different cards, each issued by a different bank, and all of them have the expiration date in MM/YY format (well, one is MM.YY, but that difference is minor enough).

    The date format on my cards perfectly matches the input expected by the app, it seems like Square designed their form to match the most common appearance on credit cards and I suspect that serves most users very well.

    Obviously that falls apart in situations like yours where the card format is different from what the designers anticipated and I agree that keeping the guidance visible may have solved that issue.

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