Twitter founder Jack Dorsey is a long-standing proponent of cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies, and with his next venture he could substantially open up the payments industry.
Square Inc, Dorsey’s fintech firm, earlier this month announced the creation of TBD, a new business that will build an open developer platform for Bitcoin. TBD will be led by Mike Brock, who heads the Strategic Development Group at Square’s payments service Cash App.
Dorsey co-founded Twitter in 2006 with Ev Williams, Biz Stone and Noah Glass, and was CEO until 2008. He returned in 2015.
In 2009, Dorsey co-founded Square with Jim McKelvey and took it public in 2015.
What is Square
Square was Dorsey’s follow up to Twitter, established in 2009 during the hiatus in between his two stints as the social media group’s chief executive.
With a market capitalisation of US$107bn is one of the world’s biggest fintech companies. It comprises three business lines: Cash App, Square Seller products and music-streaming service Tidal.
In 2010, Square’s launch of its eponymous mobile-phone paired payment device was a game changer. Immediately, it gave small businesses a platform to take debit and credit card payments via their phones.
The small, square-shaped device attached via a headphone jack allowed easy, affordable and mobile point-of-sale.
At the same time, the CashApp emerged among a number of popular payments and banking apps.
Square made headlines earlier this year as it reported that selling Bitcoin, via CashApp, saw the company generate some US$4.6bn in revenue last year.
The next big idea
Square’s new business is focused on decentralised financial services, using Bitcoin.
A decentralised finance or DeFi application will be aimed at recreating traditional financial systems (such as banks and exchanges) but in cryptocurrency.
Last month, the company has also announced a venture that will invest US$5mln to build an open-source, solar-powered Bitcoin mining facility.
Meanwhile, on the hardware side, Square is making a physical wallet for Bitcoin tied to its digital payment services to potentially allow even small vendors to easily switch-on crypto based payments.