Square, the payments unicorn led by bitcoin believer Jack Dorsey, reported earnings for the fourth quarter Wednesday evening that beat analyst estimates but fell short on guidance.
At last check shares were down 6 percent at $74 per share in after-hours trading. Last year, the firm enabled bitcoin buys and sells on its Cash App platform, a rival to PayPal’s Venmo. Still, despite Dorsey’s bullish stance on bitcoin — the billionaire has said bitcoin could be the future of money — Square does not hold that much bitcoin on its own balance sheet, its CFO Amrita Ahuja said during the earnings call.
The firm holds a “very small amount” of bitcoin, Ahuja said, noting that holding some crypto helps to “add a little bit of liquidity but our intent is not to hold a lot on the balance sheet.”
While the dollar value of quarterly bitcoin purchases grew ~22 percent from Q3 (up ~52 percent since Q1), research from The Block shows the amount of underlying bitcoin purchased increased by ~70 percent from Q3 to Q4, and as much as 200 percent since 1Q, assuming the average quarterly price of bitcoin in the denominator. In total, the firm sold over $166 million worth of bitcoin in 2018 and $52.5 million this quarter.
Dorsey added the firm is moving quickly to ensure “quality” for its customers, and said later on in the call, “Bitcoin for us is not stopping at buying and selling, we do believe this is a transformation technology for our industry and gives people more access to the financial system, so we are going to have a learning mindset and ensure we are learning and leading the industry from here.”
“The internet deserves a native currency; it will have a native currency,” Dorsey said at an industry conference in New York in May.
“I don’t know if it’ll be Bitcoin or not,” Dorsey said, adding “I hope it will be.”
Update: A previous version of this post incorrectly attributed comments to the firm’s previous CFO, Sarah Friar.