The Square mobile payments system might aim to make micro-transactions more straightforward, but managing a new company – and new hardware, for that matter – is anything but. Questions over who developed the innovative credit-card-to-audio technology the Square dongle relies on have been prompted by an associate professor of electrical engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, Bob Morley, who claims he is responsible for the original concept, design and prototype.
Morley has apparently submitted a patent application for the technology, which converts data encoded in the magnetic strip of a credit card into audio tones; the reader plugs into the headphone socket of an iPhone or iPod touch, and those tones are interpreted by Square’s software. While Morley is not attempting to take credit for that software application, nor the final mechanical design, he reckons – despite Square’s protestations to the contrary – that the company have used his idea without crediting or remunerating him.
Unless negotiations resume, Morley plans on licensing out the tech to rival payment companies; he’s looking to swap the IP for ownership shares in Square. The company themselves are yet to comment on the matter.