Richard Branson invests in mobile start-up Square

The Virgin billionaire has thrown 'undisclosed' millions at the San Francisco-based start-up. Square manufactures a widget that can turn any smartphone into a payment terminal.

by Rebecca Burn-Callander
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013
Square has impeccable credentials. It was founded by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey in 2010. Despite being only a year old, the firm is onto its third round of funding: the Series C has pumped $100m into company coffers. Branson is being coy about his share of the bill, but is happy to shout about the partnership:  ‘@jack congratulations on creating your second phenomenal business - @Twitter & now @Square. Great to be working with you on this one too,’ he said on Twitter this week.

Square has been very busy shipping its little devices to try and build a customer base. At present, the card readers and their software are completely free – alas, you can only snag one if you live in the US. To turn your phone into a mobile payment portal, just plug in the 3.5mm jack and you can swipe credit and debit cards to take instant payments. Great for sole traders, charities and – rather controversially – prostitutes and drug dealers. For Square’s merchants, the instant cash injection is worth the transaction fee - 2.75% all in for processing payments.

Square has shipped over 800,000 card readers to merchants so far and is already processing over $2bn in payments annually. The technology should hit the UK by late next year.

Branson says: ‘I’m very passionate about helping people start and grow successful businesses, and Square is an incredible technology that inspires and empowers everyone to be an entrepreneur.’

In September this year, Branson also made an investment in blogging platform Tumblr. Two investments in just three months. Could the old beardy be on a spree?

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