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Description: Social media was a game-changing technology that helped alter the course of the 2008 presidential election. In 2012, mobile payments could be the transformational technology, as millions of political supporters are given the ability to collect money on smartphones for candidates.


Date: Jan 30, 2012

On Monday, President Obama’s re-election campaign announced that it would immediately begin using Square, a mobile payments start-up company based in San Francisco, with campaign staffers and some approved volunteers. “Squares are being sent to our campaign offices across the country,” said Katie Hogan, a spokeswoman for Mr. Obama’s re-election campaign.

The announcement is just the first part of the strategy the Obama campaign plans to employ for mobile donations over the coming months.

“Eventually we want to make a version of the Obama Square application available to everyone from within the App Store,” Ms. Hogan said, referring to Apple’s iTunes store for apps. “Someone who is a supporter of the campaign can then download the app, get a Square attachment and can go around collecting donations.” The application would automatically send donation money directly to the Obama campaign.  Read Rest of Story

Questions for discussion:

  1. Will this increase the amount of money donated to campaigns or just divide up the money pie differently?
  2. What are the risks or downsides of utilizing this technology?

4 Responses to “Obama and Romney Campaigns Adopt Square for Funding”

  1. Lesley

    This is the first time i’ve ever heard of this. I do think it will increase the amount of donations made to the campaigns because it makes the collection process simple and at everyone’s fingertips. The risks seem high to me, but then again, i don’t really know much about it. I don’t think i would like my personal information used over a smart phone to donate money. It seems like there are a lot of tech savy people out there that would find ways to take advantage of this system.

  2. Billy Abesdris

    Politicians fund their campaigns through many different revenue streams. While I’m not a conspiracy theorist I would guess that if Candidate A supports a law that keeps Big Pharm B making billions, then Big Pharm B will take prudent steps to ensure the funding of that candidate. How big of steps nobody knows but these steps aren’t the $5.00 from Bob in Texas or $10.00 from Joseph in UTAH who thinks candidate A is the devil. These corporate contributions are in the millions and more money always means more significance. I think that while these micro donations do serve as monetary support their usefulness is not only in the economic contribution. Now that Bob has invested his hard earned money into Candidate A and typed in his inspirational message, Bob might get the physiological feeling that he and Candidate A are on the same team. Bob becomes a promoter of candidate A, and a promoter who has a vested monetary interest is likely to be more suggestive than one without. The biggest downside to this technology is that it helps take money from everyday people who value it highly and puts it in the pockets of rich corporate puppets who don’t equally value your $5.00 in the grand scheme of things. I think it is far better for Bob to spend $5.00 on a gallon of milk for his 3 kids than supporting a politican who says he’s gunna clean up ‘merica and do all this wonderful stuff…then doesn’t.

  3. Mr. White

    I think that this technology has the capacity to change the fundraising strategy of politicians, and to some extent level the political playing field. I don’t pay much attention to American Politics, but it is my understanding that American presidential candidates receive the bulk of administration funding from private corporations. Corporate funding is the issue that needs to be dealt with because it creates serious problems arising from conflict of interest. The President of the United States is supposed to represent the will of the people; however, the president will certainly feel obligated to look out for the best interests of the corporations that helped put him in power, and will continue to support his presidency.

    For example, Ken Lay of Enron was a major supporter of Bush Jr., and after Bush Jr. was elected President of the United States, I believe he then reciprocated with Lay by supporting the deregulation of the electricity business. These are the issues that need to be dealt with.

    I like the idea of a presidential candidate like Ron Paul having the opportunity to raise more money at the grassroots level. I think that this technology may give more opportunities to presidential hopefuls who do not have the financial power of someone like Mitt Romney, for example.

  4. Keith Grier

    The use of technology again convience, speed and availibility are rising the bar in this campaign. It’s a little scary if that candidate has lots of support and people are donating with visa cards and its all electronic it doesn’t seems like real money. This has alway been the issue with credit cards, if you can feel the money leaving your hands its a lot harder to spend but if it on credit and you don’t see it leave it’s a lot easier to spend resulting in hefty donations.
    The starting point is $5 but there are people who donate $1000 to support the cause. I think the big question here is how much are they able to collect and what is it spend on as the revolution of technology is also cutting overhead and cost structure, as now you can collect easier and faster with less people involved and voluntering? Just think about 1000 volunters collecting $5 that $5000.00 but if the same 1000 volunters collected say $200.00 per head thats $200,000.00 huge difference, little exaggretated but the potential is there. In 2008 election according to CNN election center there were 125 million plus people who voted, now with the ease of collecting a donation those campaign funds are going to be huge, do the arithmetic! Looks like a new job creation for IT people to policing all those donations and making sure they go back to the poeple and not the candidates and politians involved or perhaps just more money disappearing into cyberspace. We can alway print off more, it’s not even paper anymore, it just a debit and credit, LOL or oh maybe the new president with pay down the debt with the extra funds and put more people back to work!

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