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What Square's Customer Data Is Saying About the Future of Cashless Payments

By Brian Withers - Updated Apr 21, 2021 at 7:12AM

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Cash is slowly losing its "king status" to its digital counterparts.

It's not new news that the use of digital payments is growing, but you might be surprised how much the coronavirus has accelerated this trend. Square (SQ 4.43%) recently released a "cashless" report detailing key metrics on this trend from its massive trove of customer data. On a Fool Live episode recorded on March 31, contributor Brian Withers dives into the report and with it means for investors of this fintech company.

Brian Withers: Let's move on to another payments company, Square, SQ. They released a new cashless report. Really, they collect a ton of data from all of their customers. It shows that COVID -- surprisingly -- has massively accelerated the move to cashless payments. Cashless payments are certainly e-commerce payments, or payment over the phone, or a credit card in person.

But what's interesting is over a year from like February 2020 to today, the number of cashless businesses that are in the Square universe has more than doubled in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and the U.K., and almost nearly doubled in Japan. But believe it or not, that's still tiny. These are the businesses that only accept credit card or other electronic payments. Last year it was just 6.3% and it has grown to 14%.

Some other really cool stats. Forty-five percent of Square sellers were accepting online payments. That's up from 30% a year ago. Seventy-four percent of Square sellers are accepting contactless payments by the end of February 2021. That's up 10 points from a year ago. 2015, this is absolutely amazing to me. Cash transactions for Square sellers was above 50%, cash transactions. Today, that's down to actually 30%, in the last year it accelerated at a rate of about three years. COVID pulled that date in for three years. From 2015 to today, we've gone from 50% to 30%.

Earnings are likely first week in May, and just watch this acceleration of cashless payments. I think it helps both the Square seller universe and its cash app ecosystem. You know what? Once you move to cashless, I don't think this is going to backslide anytime soon.

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