What Square’s smashing earnings tell us about consumer bitcoin demand

Shares of Square are up more than 6% today after the American fintech company reported a staggering $5.06 billion in revenue in its Q1 2021 earnings report, far ahead of an expected tally of $3.36 billion.

By posting the huge revenue beat, Square grew 266% compared to its year-ago Q1. Because that’s the sort of growth that we generally expect to see from early-stage startups instead of maturing public companies, some exploration is in order. In short, bitcoin revenues from Square, and how they fit into its accounting, are responsible for much of its outsized growth.

And that’s something we need to talk about.

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Square’s performance apart from its bitcoin-driven results were strong. But its bitcoin incomes underscore not only rising consumer sentiment concerning bitcoin, but also an interesting angle on the question of Coinbase and its long-term fee structure.

Mix in the huge growth in bitcoin investment activity that Robinhood has seen and we can easily understand that, at least in the American market, consumers are not beholden to traditional cryptocurrency arguments regarding coin ownership. And the pace at which non-Coinbase entities are accreting trading volume could point to more competition at the now-public crypto exchange than some fans, backers and believers anticipated.

So today, we’re talking Square earnings and its bitcoin base, especially in how it relates to the results of other entities that offer bitcoin sales. Our broader question is whether consumers are going to behave as many expect, or if the less crypto-focused on-ramps to bitcoin and its brethren will prove more popular than many crypto-enthusiasts anticipate.

A bitcoin boom

If we remove the bitcoin top line from Square’s quarter, the company posted $1.55 billion in revenue, a figure that was up 44% compared to its year-ago period. That’s impressive.

But the company’s bitcoin-related revenue growth was far more so. From $306.1 million in Q1 2020 bitcoin revenue to $3.51 billion in Q1 2021, Square wrote in its report that it saw “significant growth in bitcoin revenue year over year,” up “approximately 11x.”

TC Sessions: Mobility 2021 early bird price extended for one more day

I feel the need — the need for speed.” That could be the official mobility startup founder credo, amirite? Speed and agility are important, but don’t move so quickly that you miss the chance to save $100 on a pass to TC Sessions: Mobility 2021 on June 9.

We’ve extended our early-bird price for just one more day. Slow your EV roll, reroute your autonomous vehicle or dock your scooter just long enough to buy a pass before the extended deadline expires on May 7, at 11:59 pm (PT).

TC Sessions: Mobility is where you’ll learn about the latest trends and tech advancements across the mobility spectrum — autonomous trucks, AI, EVs, the future of flight, regulatory issues, micromobility, robotics and more — from the brightest minds, makers and investors around the world.

Don’t just take our word for it. Here are what past attendees shared with us about their TC Sessions: Mobility experience.

“The virtual dynamic gave the conference a relaxed, conversational vibe. The speakers and TechCrunch editors were more accessible, and that was a welcome surprise.” — Rachael Wilcox, creative producer, Volvo Cars.

“TC Sessions: Mobility exceeded my expectations in terms of useful content. Every panel discussion I attended, every interaction I had was relevant to my work or to my daily life — because we don’t stop living at 5 pm.” — Jens Lehmann, technical lead and product manager, SAP.

“People want to be around what’s interesting and learn what trends and issues they need to pay attention to. Even large companies like GM and Ford were there, because they’re starting to see the trend move toward mobility. They want to learn from the experts, and TC Sessions: Mobility has all the experts.” — Melika Jahangiri, vice president at Wunder Mobility.

Did someone say experts? Here are just a few of the leading voices in the mobility ecosystem who will offer their invaluable insight and advice.

  • Kameale Terry, co-founder and CEO at ChargerHelp! Inc.
  • Ahti Heinla, co-founder, CEO and CTO at Starship Technologies
  • Clara Brenner, co-founder and managing partner at Urban Innovation Fund

Check the event agenda and start planning your schedule now. Your pass includes both live-stream and video-on-demand, so you won’t miss a minute of startup action.

TC Sessions: Mobility 2021 takes place on June 9, and you have just one last shot to save $100 on the price of admission. Buy your pass before the price goes up and the savings disappear on May 7, at 11:59 pm (PT).

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at TC Sessions: Mobility 2021? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

Credit Karma reinvents cash back rewards with instant payback

Credit Karma Money, a new checking and savings account from the company best known for its credit monitoring service, recently launched a significant new feature. Called Instant Karma, the program rewards users by randomly refunding purchases or adding money to cash deposits. So far, since launching the feature, Credit Karma says it has rewarded 100,000 transactions, worth $5 million.

I spoke to Poulomi Damany, General Manager at Credit Karma, who said the idea behind Credit Karma Money is to “change people’s relationship with money.” Credit Karma Instant Karma is an extension of that goal.

The process works differently from other cash back offers. For one, this product is linked to a debt card rather than a credit card. Credit Karma Product Manger Kyle Thibaut says that’s by design as their target demographic tends to stay away from credit cards. Second, the refund, though random, happens instantly. Swipe your card at a grocery store, and if selected, the money spent on the transaction is refunded instantly.

“Gen Z do not necessarily like credit cards,” Thibaut said. ” When you talk to them, they like debit cards and debit cards are the way they spend. Debit card usage is higher than credit cards in the US, and it’s actually growing while credit card usage is declining.”

According to Damany and Thibaut, a large portion of Credit Karma’s 110 million members are millennials and this product, along with Credit Karma Money, are targeted at this demographic. They say this model lines up better with the spending habits of this generation, who are generally not optimizing their spending to maximize credit card rewards.

At this time, the company is unwilling to share user numbers for Credit karma Money and the amount of users who received a refund from Instant Karma. The company says it is saving those numbers for an upcoming earnings release — Credit Karma is owned by Turbo Tax maker, Intuit.