Mediaplanet: What does Square offer local businesses in Canada?

Jack Dorsey: We launched Square five years ago to enable anyone with a mobile device to accept credit cards. Easy and affordable access to card payments is the foundation of Square, but that is only part of our story. Commerce extends beyond payments, so we’ve added many software tools over the years to help sellers in Canada start, run, and grow their business.

MP: What do businesses want when it comes to accepting payments?

JD: A reasonable expectation from business owners is that they can get started in minutes, take payments instantly, and get their money as soon as the next business day. This simplicity has been hard fought, but we’ve delivered it. It’s also important that payments tools are easy to use, accessible, and convenient for business of all sizes, whether you are an individual with a side hustle or already have multiple brick-and-mortar locations.

MP: What do you hear are the greatest challenges that local businesses face?

JD: I often hear that after the ability to make the sale, the next most critical challenge is organizing the business and making sure it’s integrated. We looked at countertops and saw businesses stitching together different systems to handle basic business operations like inventory, employee management, and accounting. The problem is, these systems aren’t connected and they don’t allow sellers to make informed decisions. We saw this as something we could fix, so we made everything on Square digital and opened our platform to connect with other key business partners, such as QuickBooks. Our free point-of-sale app gives sellers a toolkit that includes invoices, digital receipts, analytics, customer directory, inventory, and employee management — all in one place.

MP: How do you help local sellers compete with big businesses?

JD: One way we level the playing field is by offering our sellers real-time sales data and analytics so they can make informed decisions. For example, we recently heard from Matthew Senecal-Junkeer of Birds & the Beets in Vancouver, who said that every time he refreshes the app he’s refreshing his understanding of his business. He’s come to understand what the days after a long weekend will be like sales-wise, that rainy days mean a later coffee rush, and that sunny weekends are slower than rainy ones. By understanding the changing demands of his business, he has been able to make adjustments to prep levels, minimize waste, maximize his staff’s utility, and ultimately better serve his customers.

MP: What type of businesses in Canada use Square technology and tools?

JD: Hundreds of thousands of individuals and businesses across all provinces and territories in Canada have accepted payments using Square. We serve sellers from a diverse set of industries, from contractors and professional services to coffee shops and retail stores. Our sellers also range in size from a single vendor at a farmers’ market to multi-location businesses.

MP: Take us back to where the idea of Square came from.

JD: Jim McKelvey, my co-founder, is a glass artist. He was missing out on sales because he couldn’t accept cards. He had a smartphone in his pocket, so we built a hardware prototype in 2009 to accept card payments on a mobile phone, and it worked. We then started rolling it out to neighbourhood businesses and the company grew from there.

MP: What’s next for Square in Canada?

JD: We’re focused on delivering as many tools as we possibly can to empower more Canadian businesses to participate and thrive in the economy. We have a lot more to come this year — stay tuned!