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The Fintech Giant Backing Bitcoin


How smitten with Bitcoin is Square, exactly? A recent move by the company to allow users of the cash app to buy and sell bitcoin, and hints from the CEO, have sparked talk of a much bigger play here.

More specifically, Square CEO Jack Dorsey made vague comments Tuesday suggesting that Square might be seeking a seat at the crypto exchange throne.

In the world of PR stunts, it seemed to work, and now everyone’s talking.

On a Tuesday conference call following earnings, which many viewed as nominally disappointing, Dorsey dropped his bomb, saying that Square’s Bitcoin foray might not stop at buying and selling.

He described Bitoin as tossing up “an opportunity to get more people access to the financial system … in stores of asset, but also ultimately, over time, through currency”.

If so, that changes the game quite a bit.

Right now, Square’s Cash App is available in 50 U.S. states and it allows users to make instant fiat transactions. Now they have an instant Bitcoin buy/sell option, too, but it could be much more.

The ‘bomb’ didn’t do much for Square’s share price because it wasn’t live, and it followed earnings that no one was cheering over. Related: Is Spotify Really Worth $20 Billion?

Still, over a dozen analysts increased price targets on the stock, and the overall sentiment remains upbeat.

And in one way it did, indeed, defy expectations: Its transaction margins improved in the fourth quarter, with yield rising three basis points year-over-year. Things have gotten a bit more upmarket for Square: 20 percent of revenue in Q4 came from merchants who have more than $500,000 in gross volume payment. Everyone seems to like this shift to bigger money.

But if Dorsey, also the CEO of Twitter, isn’t just throwing random thoughts around in the crypto space, Square may indeed be gunning for something much bigger. And it wouldn’t be the first lately to hint at something that could rival the biggest exchanges out there, such as Coinbase and Kraken.

If Square were to become a crypto exchange, it wouldn’t be competing just with Coinbase and Kraken. The Square hints actually follow another big story in the crypto exchange world this week:

Circle Internet Financial, a cryptocurrency start-up backed by Goldman Sachs, just announced it would acquire the Poloniex cryptocurrency exchange, threatening to rival the big players in this space.

Circle uses the blockchain for peer-to-peer payment services, but it also offers over-the-counter bitcoin trading. With the addition of Poloniex, the 14th largest exchange by 24-hour volume, we’re looking at something biggest enough to rival Coinbase.

Can Square fit in this lucrative round hole?

By Fred Dunkley for Safehaven.com

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