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   Technology StocksBlock, Inc. (formerly Square)

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From: quantinvestor8/9/2021 12:58:22 PM
   of 66
Incredibly bullish on SQ as they start to embrace crypto currencies and build their new bitcoin wallet. Huge fan of Jack Dorsey and the stock. Bullish!

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To: quantinvestor who wrote (53)8/9/2021 1:58:27 PM
From: Zen Dollar Round
   of 66
I'm not a fan of Jack Dorsey, but I am bullish on both SQ and TWTR.

More so on SQ.

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From: Sr K9/16/2021 2:22:10 PM
   of 66
Amazon Is Doing It. So Is Walmart. Why Retail Loves ‘Buy Now, Pay Later.’

Retailers big and small are using installment plans to wring more sales out of shoppers who can’t get credit cards

Shoppers spend more at Macy’s when they use installment plans offered through Klarna Bank, Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette said on a recent earnings call.PHOTO: GABRIELA BHASKAR/BLOOMBERG NEWS

AnnaMaria Andriotis

Sept. 16, 2021 5:30 am ET

Alexis Luedtke got her first “buy now, pay later” plan in 2019 after she was rejected for a credit card. She has used at least five more since to buy face cream, T-shirts and birthday gifts.

Installment plans are back in style. PayPal Holdings Inc. PYPL +0.10%last week said it was buying Japanese installment payment startupPaidy Inc., following Square Inc.’s $29 billion deal for Afterpay Ltd. APT -0.06% Macy’s Inc. M +4.22% and Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. BBBY +0.71% have added the option at checkout over the past year. Even Inc. AMZN +0.23% is doing it.

One reason: shoppers like Ms. Luedtke who don’t qualify for credit cards. Buy-now-pay-later companies say they rely less on—and in some cases bypass altogether—traditional credit scores and reports. Doing so allows them to approve more consumers. Shoppers gain the ability to buy things even without cash on hand—translating to higher sales for retailers.

Afterpay said it expects the company’s U.S. merchants will see an $8.2 billion increase in sales this year because of payment plans. Affirm Holdings Inc. AFRM +7.13% last year said purchases made with its payment plans were 85% larger, on average.

Shoppers spend more at Macy’s when they use installment plans offered through Klarna Bank AB, Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette said on a recent earnings call. Klarna also is helping the retailer attract younger customers, he said.

“The value that most retailers see in buy now, pay later is customer acquisition,” said David Sykes, Klarna’s North America head.

Ms. Luedtke, 26, has credit cards now but still prefers installment plans. Just last month, she used them to buy about $40 of Peter Thomas Roth skin-care products and $65 in clothing from Shein.

“It definitely influences how much more I buy or would spend,” she said. “It’s easier to pay $200 over so many weeks compared to $200 right now.”

Buy now, pay later is a new twist on an old idea. Big retailers have for decades offered installment plans for big-ticket items like washing machines. Today, these plans come in a variety of flavors. Afterpay offers payment plans that shoppers usually attach to their debit cards. Others, like Affirm, also facilitate new loans.

Interest rates and other terms vary by payment-plan provider. Affirm interest rates range from 0% to 30%, with some 43% of its transactions during its last fiscal year not charging interest at all. The company doesn’t charge late fees. Afterpay doesn’t charge interest but does collect late fees.

Merchants take no credit risk with these plans, but the fees they incur can be higher than on credit-card purchases—often between 3% and 5% of the purchase price, according to people familiar with the matter.

Buy-now-pay-later companies say they can approve more customers than banks, including people who have thin or no borrowing history. Some 53 million adults in the U.S. lack traditional credit scores, according to FICO score creator Fair Isaac Corp. Installment plans are safer, they say, because they are often smaller than credit-card spending limits and approved on a per-transaction basis.

Affirm said that it had a net charge-off rate of 1% in the quarter ended June 30, down from 2% a year earlier. Afterpay said it wrote off 0.6% of the total dollars it processed in payments during the company’s fiscal year ended June 30, up from 0.4% the year prior.

Working with a web of retailers, buy-now-pay-later companies can create self-contained payment ecosystems. They factor payment behavior into future underwriting decisions. Customers who pay late or not at all risk losing the installment option at other participating retailers.

“Most merchants want a partner who has real advantage and real ability to underwrite,” said Affirm CEO Max Levchin. “These are not deeper approvals, but they are different approvals.”

Affirm facilitates new loans among other payment plans.ILLUSTRATION: AFFIRM
Amazon AMZN 0.28% and Walmart Inc. are both working with Affirm. Both have said they want their financial partners to extend credit to more of their customers.

Amazon is reviewing proposals, as it weighs whether to replace its longtime card issuer, JPMorgan Chase & Co. Amazon is looking for “commitments to underwrite competitively to widen the acquisition funnel,” the retailer said in a request for proposals reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

A desire to boost loan approvals was among the reasons Walmart in 2018 decided to end its decadeslong credit-card partnership with Synchrony Financial. (Capital One Financial Corp. now issues Walmart-branded credit cards.) The retailer made Affirm loans available to most of its customers the following year.

“Our goal is financial inclusion for all,” said Julia Unger, Walmart’s vice president of financial services.

Some banks now offer installment options on their credit cards. Citigroup Inc. saw a sevenfold increase in the dollar amount of credit-card purchases converted to installment loans in July, compared with the same month a year prior, said Gonzalo Luchetti, head of Citigroup’s U.S. consumer bank.

Synchrony, the largest U.S. store-credit-card issuer, will launch a buy-now, pay-later plan in October. Capital One will test out its own offering later this year, CEO Richard Fairbank said at a conference Monday.

Wells Fargo & Co. and Bank of America Corp. are exploring adding installment plans on their credit cards, according to people familiar with the matter. Visa Inc. said it has been testing out ways for shoppers to check if they qualify for installment plans when they enter their card numbers at checkout.


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From: Glenn Petersen11/21/2021 6:24:27 AM
   of 66
Square Releases White Paper for Decentralized Bitcoin Exchange

Sure, you can buy Bitcoin on the Cash App run by Square. But what if you could swap it via a decentralized exchange built by Square?

By Jeff Benson
3 min read
Nov 19, 2021

In brief

-- Square is a financial payments company led by Jack Dorsey.

-- It has been working on a decentralized asset exchange since the summer.

Square, the financial services company helmed by Twitter's Jack Dorsey, wants to do more with Bitcoin than just allow people to buy it on its Cash App. It's working on a way to let people trade BTC and fiat on the type of decentralized exchange (DEX) that's common to Ethereum.

Square's TBD division, first announced in July, today released a white paper presenting tbDEX.

The white paper claims tbDEX is a "protocol for discovering liquidity and exchanging assets (such as bitcoin, fiat money, or real world goods)" safely without knowing the identity of other parties. Moreover, it says the protocol goes around financial intermediaries and other gatekeepers (such as centralized exchanges) that guard the borders between fiat and digital currencies.

While tbDEX is built around the concept of Bitcoin, it isn't necessarily built atop the Bitcoin blockchain. It's just a series of on- and off-ramps to BTC and other cryptocurrency networks. Where exactly the protocol lives isn't clearly stated in the highly-technical yet high-level white paper.

One big question is: Why not just use the infrastructure being built on Ethereum? The network, which utilizes smart contracts to allow for transactions beyond just currency, has decentralized exchanges and identity solutions ready to be built upon. And bridges exist between Ethereum and other networks. Yet it received zero mentions in the white paper.

The quick answer is that Dorsey is a big fan of Bitcoin, the original cryptocurrency. He has repeatedly shown no interest in Ethereum and other currencies while professing love for BTC. “Whatever my companies can do to make it accessible to everyone is how I’m going to spend the rest of my life,” Dorsey said of Bitcoin this June. “If I were not at Square or Twitter, I would be working on Bitcoin. If it needed more help than Square or Twitter, I would leave them for Bitcoin."

Square has been part of the peer-to-peer payment revolution, making it easier for friends to send cash from their bank accounts or small vendors to take credit card payments. tbDEX would extend this mission into the crypto space—suddenly people wouldn't be sending cash held in bank accounts but from crypto wallets they themselves own.

But new entrants to the cryptocurrency space must first jump from the fiat to the digital world. That usually starts by buying crypto with a bank card on a centralized exchange such as Coinbase or Binance. Good luck, however, explaining to newbies how to manage the transfers and transaction fees necessary to get it into non-custodial wallets and then onto truly decentralized financial services where banks are out of the picture.

"It is still prohibitively difficult for the average person, starting with traditional fiat-based payment instruments, to directly access on-ramps and off-ramps into and out of the decentralized financial system," notes the white paper. "We need a better bridge into this future. The tbDEX protocol is directed at this problem."

You might say, then, that Square is working on DeFi for...squares.

Square Releases White Paper for Decentralized Bitcoin Exchange - Decrypt

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From: Glenn Petersen12/1/2021 6:35:23 PM
1 Recommendation   of 66
Jack Dorsey’s Square changes corporate name to Block

Kate Rooney @KR00NEY


-- Payments giant Square will change its corporate name to Block, effective Dec. 10.

-- The move comes as Square expands beyond its original credit card reader business, with a focus on new technologies like blockchain.

-- Square CEO Jack Dorsey stepped down from his role as Twitter CEO on Monday.

Square is renaming itself Block as it focuses on technologies like blockchain and expands beyond its original credit card reader business.

Jack Dorsey’s payments giant said in an announcement the new name, effective Dec. 10, “acknowledges the company’s growth” and “creates room for further growth.” Block will still trade under the ticker SQ on the New York Stock Exchange.

“We built the Square brand for our Seller business, which is where it belongs,” Jack Dorsey, cofounder and CEO of Block, said in a statement. “Block is a new name, but our purpose of economic empowerment remains the same. No matter how we grow or change, we will continue to build tools to help increase access to the economy.”

Dorsey co-founded Square in 2009 with a focus on in-person payments and its namesake card reader, which let people accept credit card payments on a smartphone. San Francisco-based Square has since added a peer-to-peer digital banking app, small business lending, received a bank charter and offers crypto and stock trading. The company has acquired buy-now-pay-later provider Afterpay and Jay-Z’s music streaming service Tidal. It’s also doubling down on bitcoin with a crypto-focused business called TBD.

As part of the Square rebrand, a separate part of the company “dedicated to advancing Bitcoin,” known as Square Crypto, will change its name to Spiral.

“The name has many associated meanings for the company — building blocks, neighborhood blocks and their local businesses, communities coming together at block parties full of music, a blockchain, a section of code, and obstacles to overcome,” Block said in a statement.

Dorsey stepped down from his other job as Twitter CEO on Monday after running both Twitter and Square since 2015. Dorsey cited a belief Twitter was “ready to move on from its founders,” and will now have more time to dedicate to Square’s growing portfolio. But Dorsey is also expected to focus on his fascination with cryptocurrency.

The news comes roughly a month after Facebook changed its name to Meta to reflect on CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s plan to build a virtual world called the metaverse. Google famously renamed itself Alphabet six years ago in a similar move to reflect other lines of business.

Square was one of the biggest winners of 2020 as consumers shifted to digital payments. Shares are down roughly 2% so far this year, as investors rotate away from higher-growth tech names.
Square changes corporate name to Block (

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From: Sr K12/2/2021 1:33:45 AM
   of 66
Square Changes Name to Block, Days After CEO Jack Dorsey Leaves Twitter

New name for financial-services company aligns with its chief’s interest in bitcoin and blockchain

Jack Dorsey has emerged as one of the highest-profile backers of bitcoin.PHOTO: MARCO BELLO/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

Paul Vigna

Dec. 1, 2021 4:30 pm ET

Square Inc., the financial-services company co-founded and led by former Twitter Inc. chief Jack Dorsey, is changing its corporate name to Block Inc.

The change will be effective later this month, the company said Wednesday. Its ticker symbol will remain SQ.

The move comes just days after Mr. Dorsey resigned as Twitter’s chief executive. He was serving as CEO of both companies.

What’s Next for New Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal as Jack Dorsey Exits

0:00 / 1:49

What’s Next for New Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal as Jack Dorsey Exits

Twitter’s new CEO Parag Agrawal is stepping in as the company has struggled with growth while increasingly experimenting with new products. WSJ’s Laura Forman unpacks what direction the incoming leader could take the social-media platform next. Photo: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

Square said the new name encompasses its various businesses better than the current name, which is mostly associated with its merchant-payment services. However, the new name also happens to align with Mr. Dorsey’s interest in cryptocurrencies and the technology behind them, called blockchain.

Mr. Dorsey has emerged as one of the highest-profile backers of bitcoin, and to an extent has used Square as a vehicle for that. “I don’t think there’s anything more important in my lifetime to work on,” Mr. Dorsey said at a bitcoin conference earlier this year.

The company holds about $220 million of bitcoin in its corporate treasury. Its CashApp business allows users to buy and sell bitcoin. In August, the company started a new unit aimed at building a blockchain-based exchange for trading crypto assets.

Mr. Dorsey was one of Twitter’s four founders. In 2009, he co-founded Square. Its first product was a mobile credit-card reader for merchants. While Twitter may have a higher profile, Square has become the more valuable company, with a market capitalization of about $92 billion compared with Twitter’s $35 billion.

Square’s earnings for the 12 months through September were $537 million on sales of $16.7 billion, according to FactSet. Twitter lost $181 million on sales of $5 billion in the same period.

Square is the second high-profile Silicon Valley company to change its name. In late October, Facebook changed its name to Meta PlatformsInc., saying the new name reflected its focus on virtual-reality products and platforms dubbed the “metaverse.”

Write to Paul Vigna at

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From: Glenn Petersen2/25/2022 8:08:31 PM
   of 66
Cash App Is King for Block Stock

A reacceleration of growth in the payments and neobanking app is reigniting investors’ faith in the fintech darling

By Telis Demos
Wall Street Journal
Updated Feb. 25, 2022 11:49 am ET

Block’s SQ 26.14% Cash App is money again for investors in the fintech giant.

Markets appeared to have lost faith in the hypergrowth potential of financial technology, with stocks such as Affirm, AFRM 1.24% Block and PayPal PYPL 5.64% all trading down more than 40% so far in 2022 as of Thursday’s close. A major concern has been that the digital payments and banking boom of the pandemic was a stimulus-driven one-off, or a pull-forward of years of future growth—and that digital finance won’t fundamentally disrupt banks or develop products that encourage long-term loyalty.

Now investors may find reasons for a renewal of optimism in results for Block’s Cash App, the neobank-like service that enables payments, deposits and more. Cash App was a major beneficiary of the disbursement of government checks during the pandemic. That had investors dreaming of a more rapid-than-anticipated evolution of Block into a digital banking giant. Then, as stimulus faded, Cash App’s year-over-year gross profit growth became progressively slower in the second and third quarters of 2021, with a sequential gross-profit drop from the second to the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, though, Cash App stabilized. Gross profit was up a bit from the third quarter and rising at a faster year-over-year pace. That annual growth rate could dip again in the first quarter, when Cash App faces a tough comparison to the period when stimulus checks were sent out in 2021. However, the business appears to be on pace to grow gross profit sequentially again, judging by accelerating two-year-compound growth in March versus January and February. Block further said that it anticipated year-over-year growth rate improvements in the second half of 2022 for Cash App.

Perhaps most enticingly, Block attributed some of that growth to expansion of what Cash App does: newer services such as tax preparation, merchant payments and accounts for teens, as well as pricing adjustments. This may reignite the belief that Cash App is much more than just another digital stimulus-check deposit service to its newer users. Block shares surged on Friday after its earnings report, gaining about 20% in midmorning trading.

Given the market’s general distrust of growth companies right now due to risk aversion and rising interest rates, Block might struggle to make up for all of its recent valuation compression. It began 2021 trading at an enterprise value around 150 times next-twelve-months earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. Now it fetches about 65 times—still above where it began at around 50 times.

There might be catalysts, though, for some additional gains. Block still is telling investors more about what it anticipates for revenue synergy with Afterpay, the buy-now, pay-later specialist it acquired recently—something especially needed as that sector is facing its own concerns about growth deceleration. The company is holding an investor day in May. Meanwhile, Block’s original Square business for sellers is picking up momentum, driven in part by further normalization of in-person shopping.

What all of this does is provide a stronger foundation for Block. But questions remain about how effectively it can fit its pieces together.

Write to Telis Demos at

Cash App Is King for Block Stock - WSJ

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To: Glenn Petersen who wrote (59)2/26/2022 1:31:08 AM
From: inspbudget
   of 66
SQ has lost more than 60% of its value from November last year.

I was really perplexed at such a long, relentless slide in the stock price. There was no break at all - seemed like someone or some organization was deliberately forcing the price down and down.

Hope that today's modest but welcome recovery will signal the end of the ski slope pattern of the last 3 months.

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From: Glenn Petersen5/7/2022 8:21:20 AM
1 Recommendation   of 66
Block Needs to Keep Stacking on Solid Foundation

Shares of the fintech company aren’t quite as hard hit as many peers, but continuing expansion of Cash App will be critical

By Telis Demos
Wall Street Journal

May 6, 2022 11:37 am ET

With so many fintech stocks tumbling, Block SQ 0.67% may be among the sturdier ones.

Financial-technology and digital-commerce companies’ shares have been hit hard by the market’s turn against growth stocks. Among them is Block, formerly known as Square. Its shares are down more than 40% so far in 2022. But it isn’t quite as downtrodden as some others that play in those realms, with companies such as Affirm and Shopify both down more than 70%. Block is also trading around the same multiple of enterprise value to forward earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization it was at the end of 2019; multiples for stocks such as Adyen, PayPal and Shopify are all now lower than they were at that point in time.

One driver of this may be Block’s big exposure to in-person shopping, via its Square seller business, which has been rising sharply as pandemic restrictions recede and e-commerce growth slows. In the company’s first-quarter report on Thursday, it said Square card-present gross payment volume—a proxy for in-store payments—grew by 41% year-over-year in the first quarter. That was 20 points faster than card-not-present GPV, which are often e-commerce sales.

Another driver is resilience in growth for Cash App, Block’s consumer-finance and payments app. What distinguishes Cash App in many investors’ minds is that it isn’t just a play on e-commerce or shopping, but also on banking’s digital transformation. Excluding the new addition of recently acquired Afterpay’s results, Cash App’s gross profit grew 17% on-year in the first quarter, despite a tough comparison with the stimulus check surge last year. The company is still expecting that the second half of 2022 will generate faster year-over-year growth.

Cash App makes money in several ways, one of which is when people use debit cards linked to their accounts. Notably, Cash Card gross profit was up 50% in the first quarter over last year, with the company saying it saw many users making day-to-day purchases like groceries and fast food. That may be an indicator that people are using Cash App similar to how they might use a checking account.

Along those lines, Block said that recurring paycheck deposits into the app were up 2½ times in March from a year earlier. Monthly transacting active users made 21 transactions on average across Block’s ecosystem in March; that figure was 18-per-month during the first quarter last year. Quarterly total inflows into Cash App were the strongest ever.

Block has an investor day coming up later this month, and one thing investors might want is more perspective on how much growth can come from continuing user expansion versus further engagement and monetization of already-active users—much as attention has shifted to per-user revenue growth across fintech. Part of the story for Block is likely to be the role of recently acquired installment payments service Afterpay in Cash App.

Block may have a solid base, but investors will still want to know how much more can be built on top of it.

Write to Telis Demos at

Copyright ©2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Appeared in the May 7, 2022, print edition as 'Block Needs A Solid Foundation.'

Block Needs to Keep Stacking on Solid Foundation - WSJ

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To: Glenn Petersen who wrote (61)5/31/2022 8:20:16 AM
From: Glenn Petersen
   of 66
Block Has Assembled the Right Pieces

Shares of the firm behind Square and Cash App have been beaten up alongside other fintech companies, but it still has strong profit potential

By Telis Demos
Wall Street Journal

May 31, 2022

Potential investors in Square parent Block SQ 8.52% might stumble over its bitcoin bets. But they don’t have to.

With the market turning against money-losing companies, the onus is on once highflying growth stocks to show a clear path to big profits. Block, the operator of both Square and Cash App, has the pieces to make a compelling case. Even if user or e-commerce growth slows, Block’s consumer Cash App is rapidly adding ways to monetize its existing users via additional financial services, as well as to help boost its Square seller business. Rather than adding still more users, this kind of per-user revenue expansion is what investors are looking for now across many fintech companies, ranging from PayPal to Robinhood Markets.

With Cash App, the average monthly active user brought in just over $1,000 to their accounts in the first quarter of 2022. And Cash App monetized those inflows into gross profit—defined as revenue minus certain transaction processing, bitcoin and hardware costs—at a rate of just under 1.2%. For an active customer in March doing direct deposit with Cash App, that increased their inflows on average by 6½ times compared with someone just using Cash App’s peer-to-peer payments service. On top of that, an active account in March that was an active user of the company’s debit-card, stock-trading or borrowing services increased their monetization rate on average to 1.7 times that of a peer-to-peer-only use.

This growing monetization over time beyond the peer-to-peer payment business has been one factor helping bring up Cash App’s structural margin—or the profitability of each additional dollar of gross profit less variable costs—to 37 cents last year, from just 4 cents in 2018. On top of that, when Cash App customers end up shopping at a merchant using Square payment services, that can drive even more-profitable transactions: The structural margin on Square gross profit was nearly 70 cents a dollar in 2021.

Block’s recent acquisition of split-pay service Afterpay can accelerate things, too. Only about 6% of Cash App annual active accounts were active Afterpay users as of the end of the first quarter. But in the first quarter, Cash App generated more than 350,000 leads to Afterpay merchants. More of those merchants may end up using Square’s payment services, too. Some large merchants that use Afterpay have already signed up to add Cash App Pay as a checkout option.

This kind of profit potential should appeal to investors, even in this market. However, Block’s overall margins also are affected by fixed costs. That includes spending on longer-term growth projects. Cash App’s all-in, or “fully burdened,” gross profit margin was 12% last year. From 2015 to 2021, Block’s total fixed expenses went from about 60% of gross profit to about 30%, though the company said it doesn’t expect to have fixed-expense leverage in the near term.

Part of what Block is investing in includes a bigger future for bitcoin and its ecosystem. Given crypto’s recent market implosion, some investors won’t be in the mood to pay for any bets on blockchain’s long-term potential for financial, creative and security purposes, which are all part of Chief Executive Jack Dorsey’s ultimate, uniquely bitcoin-focused vision. So Block’s shares might not soon overcome the gravitational pull of a bearish market.

Still, companies shouldn’t be overly penalized for longer-term investment. In the rapidly evolving digital money business, it is easy to get bypassed. Bitcoin also drives inflows, with the typical Cash App active bitcoin customer in March putting in nearly four times as much as a peer-to-peer-only user. Block says it plans for under 3% of core operating expenses to go to “emerging initiatives,” and it is prepared to scale back on spending if needed. A lot of spend right now is also going toward integrating Afterpay—which does have a strong link to profitability, as well as to international expansion.

Investors sifting through the carnage in growth stocks shouldn’t dismiss Block as a key piece of a future fintech portfolio.

Write to Telis Demos at

Block Has Assembled the Right Pieces - WSJ

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