Square is awesome… it helps millions of entrepreneurs and and small businesses easily accept credit card payments.  And they’re super-smart.  For example, once I give them an email address for an electronic receipt from one merchant, they automatically send me email receipts for all future purchases on that card from any Square merchant.  This saves me the pain of typing in my email address over and over with every purchase.

But there’s an interesting side effect to that approach: my wife knows every time I order an extra large, quad-shot, super-chocolately, whipped cream mocha from my local cafe.  And I know every time she has a glass of bubbly with lunch out with friends.  That’s because we have shared credit cards.  So once one of us has entered an email address for receipts, we get all square receipts for that credit card number.


Lucky for us, we’re a very open couple, and have nothing to hide from each other (though it does make cheating on my low-sugar/caffeine diet much harder).  But it’s really interesting to see the social impact of software product decisions.  I’m sure this Square feature has ended at least one relationship.

As product managers, we’re constantly making trade-offs: speed vs. quality vs. functionality; revenue vs. adoption.  As intelligence permeates more and more everyday technology, we’ll need to maintain a broader view of what those trade-offs might be.  I’m sure that the folks at Square thought through this trade-off, and ultimately decided that the convenience of automated receipts outweighed the challenges of shared credit cards.  But from the comments here, you can see that not everyone is happy with that trade-off.