Using Square from Outside the U.S. to Obtain Dollars at a Reasonable Rate
by R. B.
I live in Argentina, an unstable country in South America with outrageous corruption, a high inflation rate, and permanent currency devaluation. In this scenario, if you are lucky enough to save a little money, the only way to maintain the purchase level is to change saved local Argentine pesos to a strong and more stable currency like U.S. dollars.
But Argentina has a curious currency market with an official dollar exchange rate that nobody is authorized to get and a free exchange rate that is way too high (almost 80 percent more than the official rate). As an example: with 1,000 pesos you can get USD $100 in the free market or USD $183 at the official rate. (Exchange rates, perception, and policies are constantly changing in Argentina.)
When you purchase with local credit cards using a foreign merchant, the exchange rate is, of course, the official one, plus a recent fee of 15 percent named "Percepcion RG 3378/12."
My objective was to generate a schema where I can pay to myself with a credit card in order to obtain dollars at an intermediate currency exchange for savings. While traveling in the U.S., I had signed up for an account with Square and connected the Square card reader to my Samsung Galaxy S2 running Android. I was able to purchase in Argentine pesos and those pesos were exchanged to U.S. dollars at the official rate plus 15 percent, and available the next day in my account.
However, when I returned to Argentina, the Square card reader refused to process any transaction due to geolocation restrictions. Reason: Square merchants should be located in the U.S. The question was: how could I let Square think that I was still in the U.S.?
I installed a Samsung USB driver in my Notebook, then downloaded the Odin 3.04 Flash Tool (Odin3_v3.04.zip) and the ROM CF-Root-SGS2_XX_XEO_LPQ-PROPER-v5.4-CWM5.zip, and rooted my Samsung Galaxy S2.
The next step was to locate an application that overwrote my real location in rooted Android with a location in the U.S. I was happy to find an app named Location Spoofer. There is a free version that allows you to set up any location with latitude and longitude or map a selection for one minute. That time is enough to authorize and charge a card, so I have used the free version.
So right now, from Argentina, with a rooted Galaxy S2, a Square card reader, and free Location Spoofer app, I'm able to purchase to myself in order to obtain U.S. dollars at a reasonable rate for savings.
Governments and companies always like to talk about globalization, but regionalization restriction is what you really get from them.
- Square: squareup.com
- Location Spoofer: play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.ajeje.fakelocation
- Root Galaxy S2: www.wiredmash.com/how-to-root-samsung-galaxy-s2-i9100-jelly-bean-4-1-2
- Square Reader APK: www.androiddrawer.com/7862/download-square-register-2-5-1-app-apk