How would you like to pay for your crack today?

An American outfit is offering anyone with an iPhone the opportunity to take credit card payments for goods and services.

Square, which was set up last December by twitter pioneer Jack Dorsey, has recently completed a 10-month closed pilot programme and is now offering a free card swiper dongle and software to anyone who cares to sign up on the company's web site.

The software/dongle combo will turn any Apple iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch into a fully fledged PDQ machine allowing payments to be made into any account.

Apparently the buyer will have to sign for the transaction on the device's screen, which could have implications for fat-fingered punters.

Receipts are sent automatically to the buyer, presumably via e-mail, and payments and deposits are manged on the Square web site in an idiot-proof dashboard.

Square will skim between 2.75 and 3.5 per cent of the transaction total plus a 15 cent fee.

The official line is that the new system will make things easier for small traders, but the implications for people working in less salubrious industries could be a cause for concern.

Drug dealers, sex workers and sellers of stolen goods will be rubbing their hands together in glee, no doubt.

There's no indication as to if or when the Square system will come to the UK, but when it does it's sure to be a game-changer for all concerned. PayPal completely transformed the way money is shuffled about a few short years ago, and this system could well tip the way we buy stuff on its head in the same way.

Whether it's a good or bad thing remains to be seen, but we can't wait to see the look on our friends' faces when we ask for that tenner back we loaned them.

"Sorry mate. I haven't got any cash on me at the moment."

"No problemo. I can take a credit card!"

Priceless.

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