How Square Crypto aims to spark mass adoption

Under the leadership of Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, Square’s Cash App has become one of the biggest Bitcoin on-ramps, and the entrepreneur has now turned his attention to developing the ecosystem by hiring developers and donating money.

Cash App, which competes with the likes of Venmo and Google Pay, lets users send money with a simple tap and swipe. Since adding Bitcoin functionality in January 2018, the app has played an increasingly large role in the Bitcoin ecosystem by helping newcomers buy Bitcoin through a sleek, user-friendly interface.

In the first quarter of 2019, Cash App clocked a record-high of $65.5 million in revenue and $832,000 in profit from bitcoin. This almost doubled in the second quarter with a total of $125 million in revenue as Bitcoin began to move upwards.

Building on Bitcoin

In light of the recent growth, Square is broadening its offering and is said to be testing a new feature to rival platforms like Robinhood and FreeTrade by enabling users to buy and sell stocks without fees.

The main focus, however, remains Bitcoin.

In an August interview with The Australian Financial Review, Dorsey said he believes Bitcoin will be at the center of Square’s transition from a fintech company to an internet company.

“In the long term [cryptocurrencies] will help us be more and more like an internet company where we can launch a product and the whole world can use it, instead of having to go from market to market, to bank to bank to bank and from regulatory body to regulatory body,” said Dorsey.

Unlike other initiatives like Facebook’s Libra which rely on a native token, Square has no plans to introduce its own cryptocurrency. Dorsey remains faithful to Bitcoin and has scorned private cryptocurrencies, telling the Sydney Morning Herald that he thinks “open internet standards serve every person better than ones controlled or started by companies”, and that Bitcoin is “likely” to become the internet’s first native currency.

Dorsey remains fiercely committed to Bitcoin and in September donated $100,000 to the open-source BTCPay foundation.

This comes with an investment in Square Crypto, which aims not to make a profit, but to build out the Bitcoin ecosystem and improve “the Bitcoin experience for mainstream users.”

The goal, claims the anonymous Square Crypto Twitter account, “isn’t to make money, but to improve it.”

To this end, Dorsey has recently taken on three developers: Valentine Wallace from Lightning Labs, Jeffrey Czyz from Google, and Arik Sosman from Facebook’s Libra. Their appointments were announced in a series of tweets on September 19th.

The shape of Square’s future

What these developers will work on is not yet clear, but as Square Crypto’s Twitter account suggests, the project is likely to be focused on making Bitcoin easier to use.

“The focus is on design,” tweeted Square Crypto in April. “There’s a reason why many of the brightest minds from CS to economics and beyond have dedicated their careers to crypto. That said, mass adoption is almost impossible without great design. One of our goals is to accelerate the role of UX design in crypto.”

In the spirit of open source, the project has issued a call on Twitter for suggestions of projects that would help the ecosystem, claiming “there’s no project we won’t consider, as long as it improves or proliferates Bitcoin.”

Legions of fans have responded with suggestions for development, most of which revolve around the Lightning Network — of which Dorsey is a keen supporter — and the Bitcoin user experience.

Zack Shapiro, a former team member at Nano, suggests Square should “build incredible UX for Lightning so the average person can use it,” and Lightning developer Fulmo would like Square to “bring Bitcoin to outer space” using “low orbit satellites that run a full node”.

Others have made more down to earth suggestions, like John Miles who suggests that “integrating Bitcoin payments into Square terminals” could potentially have “the biggest impact from an adoption standpoint.”