Square is growing faster than you think

In the three years that Square has existed, the company and its hugely popular line of smartphone and tablet-compatible credit card readers have grown consistently in terms of both merchant usage and consumer popularity.

Regardless of the tangible success at Square, no one was prepared for the announcement that came this week from the company – perhaps not even some employees at Square. As it turns out, the Jack Dorsey-founded firm has experienced a payment volume increase of 25 percent since last month alone.

Just as others in the mobile payments space were temporarily distracted in March by new offerings from the likes of PayPal, which unveiled a new mobile scanner, Square was growing at a record pace inside of an industry that is more competitive now than ever.

‘Remarkable Growth’

Square’s growth is off the charts,” independent business analyst Mike Randazzo tells Daily Deal Media. “PayPal and Intuit aren’t going away, but Square’s recent surge will leave them playing catch-up to a degree. No one else is seeing month-over-month growth like this. It will really be interesting to see where we are a month from now. If the remarkable growth continues, Square could be to mobile payments what Apple’s iPhone has become to the smartphone world.”

As of March 2012, Square had been processing an estimated $4 billion in payments per month. By late April, that figure ballooned to $5 billion. Upon confirming the jump in users and their rate of transactions, Chief Operating Officer Keith Rabois told Bloomberg that the expansion reflects on how comfortable businesses and consumers are becoming with mobile payment platforms.

Sole proprietors and small businesses live and die by their cash flow,” Rabois said. “They don’t have access to capital; banks don’t give them loans. They need to take the money they make today and use it to pay bills, buy things and pay employees the next day, so having access to funds is super-crucial for them.”

According to Square, more than 1 million merchants are now using Square to accept credit cards. In light of that growth and the steady flow of amplified revenue, the company believes its present staff size of approximately 250 could double before the end of 2012.

The Big Picture

All told, with platforms like Square making it easier for businesses to get their money and easier for consumers to spend it, Juniper Research projects that the market for mobile payments could explode to $170 billion in transactions by 2015. That would be nearly $110 billion more than what was logged in all of 2011.

What’s really helping to drive the growth of Square and the industry at large is confidence,” Randazzo explains. “Customers are generally not apprehensive about processing payments through Square. They are much more apprehensive, it seems, about inputting their credit card information to a website. So while eCommerce has some issues to confront in the aspects of security and consumer confidence, mobile payments seem to be shaking off worries more easily.”

Mobile commerce is growing

The latest research results from eDigitalResearch and Portaltech Reply shows that 64% of smartphone owners are now using their mobile devices to shop online, a number that has increased 400% since June 2010.

The study also found that an impressive 84% of smartphone owners have used their devices to browse websites, with one third (33%) doing so on a daily basis, whilst three quarters (77%) are using their smartphones to research products.

Derek Eccleston, Head of Research at eDigitalResearch, comments. “These results confirm that mCommerce has fundamentally revolutionised the way in which we shop and browse.  The growth of mobile is completely unprecedented and the rate of change that we’ve tracked over the past two years is alarming. Back in June 2010, we predicted that smartphones were likely to play an increasingly significant part in consumer’s busy lifestyles, and whilst in 2011 we found that great strides had been made towards this, these latest set of results demonstrate that this trend is now irreversible. It is therefore essential that all retailers and brands make their mobile channels as accessible as possible to maximise the potential that mCommerce has to offer”.

The results also show that growth of mobile shopping shows no signs of slowing down. Almost half (44%) of the smartphone owners surveyed said that they would use their devices to browse more in the coming months, with one third (31%) claiming that they would then go on to make a purchase.

Shopping through an online mobile site has remained more popular than shopping on a mobile app, although it has to be taken into consideration that transactional retail apps are still a key future development for some retailers. The results also seem to suggest that there appears to be preference between shopping online and via an app for some users.

Mark Adams, Partner at Portaltech Reply comments said: “Three years ago we were just at the outset of the mobile revolution and this latest research proves conclusively that the excitement and expectation around how mobile would change eCommerce was not exaggerated. Smartphone use as a shopping tool has become mainstream and the arrival of 4g and better connected retail outlets will further drive smartphone engagement in the multi-channel shopping experience.  I believe we will see a greater use of mobile and tablet applications to support the in-store browsing, sharing and purchasing demands of the mobile 2.0 consumer”.

Results also found that security, clear navigational links and quick browsing remain key features for mobile shoppers, who once again, rated functionality and usability higher than branding and design.

eDigitalResearch and Portaltech Reply have been tracking the growth of mobile commerce with consumers since June 2010. The original results found that, whilst mCommerce was still in its infancy, mobile shopping was likely to play an increasingly important role in multichannel purchasing.

Crowdfunding Law… almost

We are very close to finally getting the laws changed that will allow many entrepreneurs to raise money in smaller amounts. It will be especially helpful for those that don’t have a network of wealthy people to talk with and become angel investors.  This will help change the landscape a bit for both the very small companies and the larger ones as the law is expanding the number of shareholders that is allowed before having to become a public company. I will post the real law once it is finalized (hopefully next week).

We will surely see a rush to set up networks that help facilitate crowdfunding. I am going to guess you will see upwards of 200-300 of these networks sprout out of nowhere.  Many will be focused on niche industries and ways we are currently not used to raising money.

I have been watching the JOBS act bill 2190  since October when it was HR 2930 and seeing it gain momentum each month and each step of the legislative process.  This will be a big opportunity for many more entrepreneurs and small companies. I am very much looking forward to seeing it all shake out. Stay tuned.

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