Retail

Square Takes On Stripe

With the release yesterday (March 30) of “Build with Square,” Square has thrown its hat into the digital commerce platforms ring, competing with entrenched players like Stripe, BlueSnap, PayPal and Braintree.

Square said it saw an opening.

“Independent businesses have been poorly served by existing commerce solutions, which require them to laboriously piece together hardware, software and payments services from many different vendors,” explained the company in a blog post announcing Build with Square. “From payments to point of sale, financing to payroll, we believe all sellers — big or small, online or offline — should be able to start, run and grow their entire business with one cohesive system.”

Not surprisingly, the comparisons to those entrenched competitors ensued. Key capabilities are similar, as are the costs: 2.9 percent plus $0.30 per transaction.

The big difference, though, from Square’s perspective, is the ability to facilitate both online and offline transactions and to present data from both of those channels in a single dashboard.

Another tool released under the “Build with Square” banner is Square’s Register API, which allows merchants to customize any iOS point of sale in order to process payments through Square.

The merchant customization element appears to have been a driving force in Square’s development of its new APIs, with the company’s general manager, Carl Perry, telling VentureBeat: “We’ve found that, as merchants grow or you move more up market, there’s a need for customization. These companies will either work with existing developers to build apps or, if they’re larger merchants, will have their own IT shop.”

Since the Build with Square toolset essentially does away with the need for merchants to turn to a third party in that respect (and others), Square is effectively taking strides to keep its customers in its own walled garden, while, at the same time, allowing those retailers to expand their own bandwidth on the O2O chain.

As Alyssa Henry, who runs Square’s seller division, told Wired: “What we hear from customers is that more and more of them want to be able to sell both offline and online, and they’re looking for solutions that will enable them to seamlessly do both and have a consolidated view of their business.”

The degree to which Square may be able to draw business away from existing players in the online checkout space will rest with its ability to integrate the various functions and features that online merchants want, which is enabling mobile checkout and all of the requirements that entails. Whether Square is able to keep pace with all of the moving parts that involves remains to be seen.

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