POS Feature - Square moves into buy now, pay later

September 17, 2021

In this month's highlight on Point of Sale (POS) Software, we take a look at Square who looks set to embrace buy now and pay later (BNPL) after moving to buy Australian firm Afterpay Ltd.

In a proposed deal that has been recommended by the Afterpay board and is currently being put to shareholders, Square will purchase the Australian company in Q1 2022 for $39 million (US$29 million).

Should it come to fruition, it will mark the biggest-ever buyout of an Australian company.

Who is Square?

who-is-square

Used by retailers, hospitality providers and small merchants globally, Square began as a mobile Point of Sale and payment processing system that can be customized to suit a retailer’s needs.

Touted as POS software built for simplicity, Square not only facilitates mobile payment processing with hardware but offers an advanced point of sale app and store management system that extends from a credit card reader to a merchant's mobile device and beyond to their laptop.

Launched in 2009 by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, Square has developed into one of the leading payment processing systems in the world that goes well beyond handling transactions to managing an entire store or customer service business via an app and online dashboard.

One of the major advantages of the Square POS system is its simplicity and ease of set-up. The app and accompanying card readers allow a merchant to set up their store quickly, then instantly take payments using a mobile phone or tablet and the accompanying card processor.

In addition to the point of Sale service, Square also created a Cash App (formerly Square Cash) that allows person-to-person money transfers via the app or the Square website.

It later launched Square Cash for businesses, allowing individuals and organizations to send and receive money using a unique username, known as a $cashtag. In 2018, the app introduced the ability to buy and sell Bitcoin.

Who is Afterpay?

who-is-afterpay

Afterpay is an Australian fintech company that burst onto the scene in 2014, offering users the ability to acquire a product but pay for it later over four equal repayments.

The repayments are interest-free, but charges are incurred if a payment is missed.

The service has burgeoned in popularity in recent years as a challenger to conventional credit cards.

In full-year financial results for 2021, the company reported it had 16.2 million active customers globally, along with 98,200 active merchants.

Merchants using the service include major retailers across key verticals such as fashion, homewares, beauty, sporting goods and more.

The rise in e-commerce spurred on by COVID-19 further accelerated the use of Afterpay throughout 2020.

In the 2020/21 financial year, Afterpay recorded underlying sales of $21.1 billion globally, which marked a 90 percent increase on the year prior.

What the deal means

what-the-deal-means

Announcing the proposed deal on August 2, Afterpay and Square issued a joint statement noting the acquisition would “enable the companies to deliver better compelling financial products and services that expand access to more consumers and drive incremental revenue for merchants of all sizes.”

Square plans to integrate Afterpay into its existing Seller and Cash App business units and explained the acquisition will:

  • Allow even the smallest of merchants to offer BNPL at checkout.
  • Provide Afterpay consumers the ability to manage their installment payments directly in Cash App
  • Give Cash App customers the ability to discover merchants and BNPL offers directly within the app.

Meanwhile, Afterpay will benefit from Square’s large and growing customer base of more than 70 million annual transacting active Cash App customers and millions of sellers, which will expand Afterpay’s reach and growth both online and in-person.

“Square and Afterpay have a shared purpose. We built our business to make the financial system more fair, accessible, and inclusive, and Afterpay has built a trusted brand aligned with those principles,” Co-Founder and CEO of Square, Jack Dorsey said.

“Together, we can better connect our Cash App and Seller ecosystems to deliver even more compelling products and services for merchants and consumers, putting the power back in their hands.”

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