This holiday, donating to Salvation Army in select cities will be as simple as a credit-card swipe. Salvation Army is accepting credit cards at 10 locations each in Chicago, Dallas, New York and San Francisco. Although this option is convenient for consumers who don’t carry loose change, Consumers Digest had reservations about the security of consumers’ credit-card information when they donate via a mobile payment device.
Salvation Army will arm its volunteers in those locations with the mobile payment device, manufactured by Square that connects to a smartphone through the device’s headphone jack. Donors can swipe a credit card through the postage-stamp-size device, which is connected to a volunteer bell ringer’s Salvation Army-issued smartphone. The donation will be sent to the nonprofit organization via a Salvation Army mobile application. The donor will have the option of getting an emailed receipt of the transaction.
Maj. George Hood, who is a spokesperson for Salvation Army, tells Consumers Digest Square has placed safeguards against the theft of individuals’ credit-card information. If a volunteer connects the Square device to his/her own smartphone, he/she won’t gain access to a customer’s credit-card information, because the transaction information is sent to Square’s servers.
According to Square’s security policy, a consumer’s credit-card information isn’t stored on the Square device or on the smartphone to which it’s attached. The policy also says financial information is encrypted, and servers are monitored strictly. However, Square didn’t respond to Consumers Digest’s inquiries about how customer information is transmitted and stored during a transaction.
Maj. Hood also says any smartphone owner who has a Square device can download the Salvation Army app and make a credit-card donation via his/her smartphone.
Salvation Army decided to test out the mobile credit-card-reader program to keep up with younger consumers—many of whom don’t carry loose change—according to Maj. Hood. If the program is successful, consumers can expect to see mobile payment options in more cities next year.
– K. Fanuko