‘Is It Real?’: Square CFO Speaks Out on Cash App Bitcoin Trial

'Is It Real?': Square CFO Speaks Out on Cash App Bitcoin Trial

Sarah Friar, CFO of payments firm Square,

has filled in some of the detail on why the company has launched a bitcoin pilot scheme. Revealed yesterday, Square's mobile payments product, Cash App, is now allowing a limited number of users to buy or sell bitcoin within their accounts.

Talking to CNBC, Friar explained:

"You're talking about it, it's out there, and so we want to do an experiment and say, OK, is this real? Do customers actually want to be able to do this?"

Friar noted that customers often feed back desired features in Square's products, and that some using Cash App to make payments have requested an "easy way to buy and sell bitcoin." Arguing that the fastest way to get moving with new trends is to build innovations around them, Friar said, ultimately, risks have to be taken – citing the example of early days of internet or the cloud as examples. While future developments with bitcoin are uncertain, she added, "as an innovator" Square has to give customers what they want.

Overstock finds cryptocurrency
is most popular in Alaska, with Delaware close behind

  • Overstock accepts about 50 different types of cryptocurrencies.
  • Overstock's top states by percentage of purchases in cryptocurrency are: Alaska, Delaware, Oregon, Wyoming and Hawaii
  • Because cryptocurrencies don't rely on banks it may make them more popular among libertarian-minded people, Overstock board member Jonathan Johnson
     

     

     

     

     

     

The states driving most of Overstock's purchases via cryptocurrency

aren't your typical tech havens. The top five states for cryptocurrency purchases are Alaska, Delaware, Oregon, Wyoming and Hawaii have , the company told CNBC. Overstock got this statistic by looking at the percentage of overall revenue from each state that came from cryptocurrency purchases. (Absolute cryptocurrency revenue is highest in the most populous states — California, New York, Texas, and Florida.)

Overstock began accepting its first cryptocurrency, bitcoin, in 2014. Today it allows payment from about 50 different cryptocurrencies. The company does about $300,000 worth of sales through cryptocurrency each month, said Overstock board member Jonathan Johnson. "We saw from the 2013 banking crisis is Cyprus that bitcoin was a good store of value and could act as a currency," said Johnson. "We like the pro-freedom aspect of Bitcoin." (Johnson is also the president of Overstock's Medici Ventures division which invests in blockchain technology companies.)

People paying with cryptocurrency don't buy anything drastically different from other customers. However they do tend to be male and buy twice as much as those paying with regular currency, Johnson said. Because cryptocurrency does not rely on banks or government-issued currency, it's popular among libertarians and others who distrust government intrusion and big institutions, Johnson said. It also may allow Overstock to expand in areas where many people don't have bank accounts, like Africa.

Chuck Reynolds


Marketing Dept
Contributor
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