Square Brings Offline Mode to Canada

February 21, 2015         By: Steven Anderson

If you’re anyone who’s ever tried to get a day’s work done at a coffee shop—just count the number of MacBooks at your local Starbucks—you’ve likely run into a problem once or twice with the coffee shop’s Wi-Fi service.

It’s inconvenient—sometimes even difficult—for you, the customer, but for the coffee shop, it might be even worse.

Some coffee shops depend on that signal in order to process payments, particularly of the credit or debit card variety, not to mention the steadily growing mobile payment sector. Square, meanwhile, has seen such problems coming and is now offering its Offline Mode functionality to such operations in Canada.

While Square has been part of the Canadian landscape since back in October 2012, it’s been largely dependent on the full and complete operation of mobile networks to process payment.

As anyone who’s used a network—pretty much any network—will tell you, that’s a somewhat risky strategy, as network outages tend to occur with little warning and seemingly at random. Should one of those random times prove to be a time when the business is open, that means lost business, lost sales, lost face in the market, and a potential to lose customers for good as well.

Offline Mode works about how you’d expect something called “Offline Mode” to work; a payment source is accessed much in the normal fashion, but when the connection goes down, Square simply switches over to taking payment information to carry out the charge later, when a connection is re-established.

Not only does this help in the occasionally adverse situation like a coffee shop’s sometimes spotty Wi-Fi, it also helps for those who do business where connectivity is inherently weak, like at outdoor venues, trade shows, or similar events. Users can even establish a cap on transactions that can be accepted in offline mode so as to make sure it’s only the smaller stuff that gets in.

That’s a positive experience for plenty of businesses out there, and those who get in on the action will likely prove very happy that they did.

After all, it’s generally good practice to have a couple options on hand in case of emergency, and when it comes to being able to take payments or not, it’s the kind of thing that goes from “normal” to “emergency” with a shocking degree of rapidity.

Square’s Offline Mode, meanwhile, allows business to proceed somewhat as normal—it might make for some difficulties in that payments wouldn’t be actually carried out until the connection comes back, so someone could go obliviously shopping and end up forcing a non-sufficient payment charge or the like—but this likely wouldn’t happen often as it would require two somewhat unlikely events to strike at the same time. Still, for businesses who like having a plan B, Square and its Offline Mode may well turn a few heads and change a few minds.