Square Records $34.1 Million in Revenue From Bitcoin Operations in Q1
Shares of Square (SQ) started the day lower on Thursday following the company’s first-quarter earnings report Wednesday; the first report that includes the company’s bitcoin trading operation. While the company recorded another solid quarter, with a adjusted revenue growth of 51% for the quarter, Square netted just $200,000 from its newly-added bitcoin functionality.
Square posted bitcoin-based revenues of $34.1 million for the quarter, but high operational costs, $33.9 million, resulted in slimmer than anticipated margins. In the media call with reporters, Square CFO Sarah Friar discussed the drivers behind the high costs, which included transaction-based costs as well as bitcoin price-related costs.
“It’s effectively a margin that we’re putting in place to give us some cushion for when a customer makes purchases and we have to go into the market to buy the bitcoin.”
Friar went on to urge reporters and analysts to consider the broader applications of Square’s peer-to-peer money transfer app, now with bitcoin integration, emphasizing how the company can further monetize its platform.
Bitcoin trading on Square Cash kicked off on Jan. 31, and the company’s stock price has surged in recent weeks due to the optimism of its new crypto integration. One analyst has said that bitcoin services could add an additional revenue per user of $125 every year, stating that “about 2-6% of Square Cash app users trade bitcoin, which brings a 1-3% percent boost to adjusted revenue and as much as a 10% boost to adjusted EBITDA.”
Other analysts, such as BTIG’s Mark Palmer, see the Square’s bitcoin enthusiasm as less than warranted. Stating in a recent report by BTIG, Palmer believes that the company’s bitcoin transactions are not enough to make a significant long-term financial impact.
“Inasmuch as Square’s stock performance in recent months has been bolstered by enthusiasm surrounding the bitcoin effort, the actual financial impact of the cryptocurrency on the company’s results provided a window into how little such transactions may move the needle for the company.”
Additionally, Square recently came under fire from Citron Research, a short-selling firm led by Andrew Left. In a recent tweet, the firm shared its bleak assessment of the company’s revenue growth, while calling Wall Street’s growing interest in Bitcoin “nonsense.”
$SQ Short term tgt $30 started as innovative pymt co. – now just another processor. 15x rev growing slower than $FB. Collection of yawn businesses. WallSt drunk on Bitcoin nonsense, SQ-Cash to BTC trading has been insignificant. Even w/ hyper growth still 40% too rich
— Citron Research (@CitronResearch) April 30, 2018
In spite of recent criticism, Square and its CEO, Jack Dorsey, continue to be bullish on bitcoin. Dorsey went on record last month stating that bitcoin is likely to become the dominant form of payment in the next ten years. “The world ultimately will have a single currency, the internet will have a single currency. I personally believe that it will be bitcoin,” he stated in an interview with The Times of London.
Outside of bitcoin operations, Square continues to build upon its payment platform, recently acquiring website-builder company Weebly for a reported $365 million.