HOW TO PLAY IT
BY JON D. MARKMAN
Payment pioneer Square was born in 2009 when its cofounder couldn’t accept credit cards to sell his artwork. Today you see its iconic card readers at hair salons, neighborhood coffee shops and weekend art fairs. The compact white squares leverage the functionality of smartphones to bring fast, reliable credit card processing and inventory management to artisans and small businesses like the ones also helped at Patreon. Now the company is betting on the little guy again, with Square Capital. It uses the company’s data to make instant loans to small businesses left behind by traditional banks. Square Cash, its new payment app, allows peer-to-peer money exchanges without the need of a bank. Square shares rose 154% in 2017 and are up 30% so far in 2018. With sales growth averaging 77%, it’s still a buy. Jon D. Markman is president of Markman Capital Insight.