A few people have asked me about the process of writing our book on service design given that the three of us are in different countries and all have different thoughts and styles of writing. I wrote a post on the Luzern MA Design site called Collaborative Long Form Writing that goes into the details.

It also contains some never-before-published behind-the-scenes photos!

Square Cash

by Andy Polaine on October 21, 2013

in Links

Screen Shot 2013 10 20 at 16 11 07

I’m fascinated by Square’s new service, Square Cash, that allows you to send someone cash simply by sending them an e-mail and cc’ing Square’s service. Walt Mossberg’s review of the service has been doing the rounds and has most of the details you need to know. Basically, Square doesn’t really act as a money middleman in the way that PayPal does, they act as a transaction messenger, instructing each bank to pay or receive the cash.

From a service design perspective I find this a really interesting example for a number of reasons. Firstly, it tackles a market that is poorly served. PayPal has legendarily poor and hostile customer service but has a near monopoly in the market of small transactions. Amazon and Google both have their competing services, but you need to have an account with these too. While Square does require to enter your banking information once (obviously, you need to receive the funds at some point), it’s not much of an effort. Plus—and this isn’t to be underestimated—Square seem to be pleasant people.

Secondly, the service attempts to remove as many of the barriers to usage as possible and piggybacks on a existing and familiar service and paradigm. Most of us are used to the idea of sending money or a cheque in the mail (well, you’re used to it in the USA—we’ve been doing electronic transfers for free in the rest of the world for ages) and e-mail is a near universal tool for anyone with access to a computer or a mobile phone, the latter of which gives Square Cash real potential to expand.

Finally, the story of the service is well explained, partly because of the two previous points and partly because Square have an appreciation for the power of communicating well. Square is Apple to PayPal’s Microsoft in the aesthetics department.

Square really, really need to expand beyond the USA and Canada if they really want to grow. PayPal is active worldwide and this first mover advantage means they can continue to offer a crappy service and hold people’s money hostage as they see fit. Financial regulations around the world differ enormously and this often prevents financial services expanding, but there is a real opportunity to de-clutter and simplify this industry. Banks should have done this years ago, but they are still struggling to make decent online banking websites, so we can probably forget about them.

The slightly puzzling part of this is how and why they are offering the service for free. I can see that Square can use it as a way to expand their market and try and break PayPal’s dominance, which only exists because everyone else uses PayPal, despite its awfulness. I can also see that their might be relatively minimal costs, as Square don’t actually process the transactions. On the other hand, it must cost them something and I would really like to see this take off and not suffer from them not being able to find a revenue model for it. I’m sure Square have thought about all of this, so it will be interesting to see how they continue.

May the force be with you – service design for invisible connections

October 20, 2013

The video of the talk I gave at DESIS Lab Melbourne at RMIT is online at Service Design Melbourne’s website. The audio is a bit hard to hear because the room had a bit of an echo and I’m mumbling, but I hope you might get something out of it.

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Service Design, The Force and Yoda

July 30, 2013

While I am down under in Melbourne later in August for UX Australia I’m going to be giving a different talk and hosting a discussion at RMIT’s DESIS Lab in the RMIT Design Hub for Service Design Melbourne. My talks is titled May The Force Be With You – Service Design for invisible connections and […]

Read the full article → – super duper collaborative walls

July 17, 2013

Anyone who has worked with me in the last few years will know my propensity to use a lot of Post-It notes. It’s a design cliché, I know, but true. I just find it really hard to think when I look at something in a big Word doc or, worse, Excel. My eyes glaze over […]

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Tile and Internet of Things Services

July 12, 2013

I have a re-occurring conversation with my MA Design students, especially those specialising in products. It goes something like this: Student: “I’m working on a new product/gadget/object.” Me: “Great, but you know you’re actually building a service?” Student: “No, no, I’m not interested in designing services. I want to design products.” Me: “But you say […]

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ALA Article on Service Design Beyond the Screen

June 30, 2013

As usual I’m behind the curve, but this time I’m behind myself, which is weird. I don’t think I’ll psychoanalyse that too much more. I am really pleased that my article Designing for Services Beyond the Screen was published this week on A List Apart. I’ve been away and blissfully offline all week, so I […]

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Service Design: From Insight to Implementation is here!

March 13, 2013

I’m extremely happy to announce that our book, Service Design: From Insight to Implementation, was officially published today. I wrote a welcome post about it over on the book’s home at Rosenfeld Media. If you feel like tweeting or blogging about it, that would be great. What really helps is a quick review on […]

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A Golden Rule for Interactions and Life

February 28, 2013

Most of us have experienced a relationship in which the other person constantly assails you with their problems, yet when the tables are turned, their response is cursory before turning the conversation back to themselves. These relationships soon end or we put up with them because the other person is our mother. I tweeted yesterday […]

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O’Reilly Webcast: Designing cross-channel service experiences

February 21, 2013

A quick cross-post from our Rosenfeld Media book blog. Ben, Lavrans and I are going to be doing (giving? What does one say…?) an O’Reilly Webcast titled Service Design: Designing cross-channel service experiences on Wednesday 14th March. It’s my daughter’s birthday, so it’s an auspicious date. The O’Reilly site has all the details and where […]

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