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Where Will Square Be in 5 Years?

By Matthew Frankel, CFP® – Aug 5, 2019 at 8:17AM

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Square has come a long way in the past few years, but could there be even more room to climb?

Over the past five years, payment processing and financial technology company Square (SQ 0.61%) has grown its business tremendously. Square's past five years have been an incredible growth story, and shareholders who got in early have been handsomely rewarded. Since going public in November 2015, shares have risen more than 700% from their $9 IPO price through the end of July 2019.

However, that doesn't mean that Square's growth is running out of steam just yet. Here's how the company's business could grow even more over the next five years, and what it might mean for investors.

Businessman with his hands hovering over a crystal ball.

Image source: Getty Images.

Square's current ecosystem still has lots of room to grow

There are two main sides to Square's business: its ecosystem of business financial services and its ecosystem of individual financial services.

The growth has been impressive. In its core business of processing payments for small businesses, Square's gross payment volume (GPV) grew by 25% year over year in the second quarter of 2019 and represents a $107 billion annualized volume. The Square Capital business lending platform has originated a total of more than $5 billion in loans since its 2014 launch and grew 36% year over year in the most recent quarter.

On the individual side of the business, the Cash App and its ecosystem have been even more impressive. Monthly active users more than doubled from 7 million at the end of 2017 to 15 million at the end of 2018. What's more, Cash App revenue has skyrocketed from just $1 million in the second quarter of 2016 to $135 million (not including bitcoin) in the second quarter of 2019.

Even considering its rapid growth, Square could have a lot more room to grow its current business. Global card payment volume is expected to reach $45 trillion annually by 2023, and the company's current annualized payment processing volume is just 0.2% of this amount -- even a 1% market share would be huge, and I think that is completely attainable.

Furthermore, as Square's payment processing continues to grow, Square Capital should grow right along with it (after all, loan offers are based in part on a merchant's payment volume). And Cash App's 15 million active users are a huge customer base, but there are hundreds of millions of smartphone users in Square's markets, so the momentum could certainly continue.

Other possible revenue sources over the next five years

In addition to Square's current rapidly growing businesses, it's important to remember that the company's management has previously said that it would ultimately like the Square's consumer ecosystem to do anything that a traditional bank could and more.

For example, Square could launch a high-yield deposit account to encourage users of its ecosystem to leave larger amounts on deposit. Or, Square could launch a platform that allowed its customers to buy stocks and other investment products.

This is why I'm so excited about the Cash App side of the business. Square has done a great job of monetizing the app faster than most analysts thought possible through things like instant deposit, the Cash Card, and credit card person-to-person payments. However, the Cash App also gives Square 15 million (and growing) active users to whom it can market any new products.

Another possibility worth mentioning

In addition to all of the possible growth pathways Square could take, there's another possibility for where Square could be in five years that is certainly worth mentioning: The company could potentially be an acquisition target.

To be sure, Square would likely not be a cheap acquisition. Recently, CNBC's Jim Cramer said that Facebook should buy Square for about twice its current valuation, which at the time of the comments implied a roughly $70 billion price tag. However, there are several other companies that also could potentially have interest, and most have deep pockets -- think Apple,, or another tech heavyweight.

I have absolutely no idea when and if Square could be acquired, and as a Square shareholder myself, I'd actually prefer the company not get bought out since I feel the long-term growth potential is greater than any price it could realistically get. However, it's certainly possible.

So, to answer the initial question, exactly where Square will be in five years is anyone's guess at this point. However, it's fair to say that the electronic payments space, business lending, person-to-person payments, and other areas of fintech will continue to grow, and Square should be a big beneficiary one way or another.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Randi Zuckerberg, a former director of market development and spokeswoman for Facebook and sister to its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Matthew Frankel, CFP owns shares of Apple and Square. Matthew Frankel has no position in any cryptocurrency mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Square. The Motley Fool has the following options: short September 2019 $70 puts on Square, short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple, long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has no position in any cryptocurrency mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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