Square kicks off overseas expansion with Japanese launch


Square is launching its mobile payment processing network in Japan, its first expansion outside of the North American market. Square took its first international steps in fall 2012, rolling out services in Canada.

The Square Card Reader solution enables merchants to swipe credit and debit cards through a small dongle plugged into devices running Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android. The complementary Square Register application enables mom-and-pop businesses to accept cash and credit transactions, customize inventory, integrate loyalty programs and issue receipts, all via Apple's iPad.

Square is rolling out the Card Reader and Register app to Japanese users in partnership with Sumitomo Mitsui Card Corporation, which previously introduced Visa to the Japanese market. Japanese merchants can process Square payments for a flat fee of 3.25 percent per swipe--in comparison, Square bills U.S. merchants 2.75 percent on all transactions.

Square is now processing more than $15 billion in payments on an annualized basis, up from $10 billion six months ago. The figure excludes transactions completed by coffeehouse chain Starbucks, which began allowing consumers to pay for purchases via the Square Wallet app late last year. More than 4 million North American businesses and individuals use Square services.

Square's expansion to Japan follows roughly two months after rival PayPal Here entered the Japanese market. PayPal Here kicked off its international rollout in February 2013, launching services in Europe. eBay-owned PayPal also is trialing mobile wallet services across roughly 20,000 physical U.S. stores and is expected to handle around $20 billion in mobile transactions this year, up from $14 billion in 2012.

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