Visa buys 10% of Jack Dorsey’s Square

Dorsey unfazed by Square's lower IPO price

Square. Everywhere you want to be?

Visa, the credit card processing giant famous for that marketing slogan, disclosed in a SEC filing late Thursday that it now owns a 9.99% stake in Square, the mobile payments startup founded by Twitter (TWTR, Tech30) CEO Jack Dorsey.

Shares of Square (SQ) surged nearly 10% in early trading on the news.

Visa (V) already had an investment in Square. It bought a stake in the company back in April 2011. But terms of that investment were never disclosed … and the stake must have been relatively small since it was not disclosed in Square’s IPO filing last year.

But Visa is now Square’s fourth-largest shareholder — trailing only Dorsey, venture capital firm Khosla Ventures and mutual fund giant Capital Research Management.

The investment could be viewed as major validation for Square, whose stock has slumped since its market debut last November.

And that’s despite the fact that Square priced its offering at a discount to what it was valued at as a private company in an attempt to lure investors.

Related: Square IPO shows that it’s tough for Silicon Valley’s unicorns

There have been concerns that Square is in too crowded a field.

In addition to competition from the likes of Visa and its top rival MasterCard (MA), Square also has to go up more established payment processing firms like First Data (FDC) as well as PayPal (PYPL, Tech30).

Square may also face more competition from tech giants Alphabet (GOOGL, Tech30), Facebook (FB, Tech30), Amazon (AMZN, Tech30) and Apple (AAPL, Tech30) — which would all love to get a bigger piece of the growing mobile payments market.

Apple is even rumored to be considering using its Apple Pay to launch a peer-to-peer money transfer service that could rival Square’s Cash and PayPal’s Venmo.

Related: Twitter is losing users and its stock continues to plunge

Some investors have also expressed worries about Dorsey’s ability to run both Square and Twitter — which requires a lot of his time given its troubles. Shares of Twitter hit an all-time low Thursday after it reported a surprise drop in monthly active users.

Visa and Square were not immediately available for comment. But it is clear that Visa also wants to be a bigger player in mobile — and a deeper partnership with Square could help give Visa a leg up on MasterCard.

Visa announced Friday that is planning to show off new payment technologies at the influential Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona later this month.


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