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Posted on Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 9:54 a.m.

Salvation Army ringers to test mobile credit card swiping technology

By Nathan Bomey

The Salvation Army plans to start accepting digital payments through the use of a new mobile credit card swiping technology created by a Silicon Valley startup called Square, according to the New York Times.


Salvation Army bell ringer Jeanne Brooks asks for donations outside the KMart on Maple Road in Ann Arbor in 2010.

File photo |

As consumers carry less cash and fewer coins, the Salvation Army decided to test the Square device, which attaches to a smartphone and swipes credit cards, in four major markets this year, according to the Times.

The "ringers" who collect donations outside major shopping sites for the Salvation Army during the holiday season reportedly collected more than $148 million in actual dollars and coins in 2010.

Now, shoppers in at 10 spots apiece in Dallas, San Francisco, Chicago and New York will be able to donate via credit card instead of digging for cash. The catch? Square tags each purchase with a 2.75 percent transaction fee, "a majority of which goes to the credit card companies," the Times reported.

(For more on how industry experts expect Square to reshape business, read this May 2011 Wired magazine story.)

Read the full New York Times story here.

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.



Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 7:58 p.m.

The credit card donations will probably be higher. I usually give a couple bucks or so - occasionally five dollars - in cash each time I see them. But if I'm going to use plastic, it'll be ten dollars. Can't just put a dollar on my credit card!


Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 8:24 p.m.

This is good, because I like to donate but I rarely ever carry cash.


Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 8:20 p.m.

I can envision this working out for the Salvation Army, or any other on-the-street charity. Many find it less painful to spend money via credit card than handing someone paper money. Probably more importantly, by donating by credit card, the donor would then have a record of it for the IRS, whereas such a record does not exist if you drop paper money into the collection bucket. If the donation can be documented as having occurred for tax purposes, donations may increase, both in amount and in frequency.


Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 3:43 p.m.

Great, now those poor credit card companies won't be neglected this holiday season.