Shares of fintech platform Square Inc. (SQ) have spiked 4.5% on Wednesday morning, trading at $54.17 on a bullish note from a team of analysts on the Street who see its heightened involvement in the cryptocurrency space driving the stock another 18% over 12 months.
Square CEO Jack Dorsey, who is also the CEO of Twitter Inc. (TWTR), saw his merchant services business surpass his social media platform in terms of market capitalization late last year, with the former up a 57% year-to-date (YTD) and a whopping 223% over the year.
In a recent survey, Nomura Instinet found that over half of the retailers that use Square's technology at the checkout stand would accept bitcoin, the world's largest cryptocurrency by market cap, as a form of payment. The survey, which found that 60% of merchants would take the digital coin instead of dollars, included 100 U.S. merchants across various industries with over $100,000 in annual revenue. "This result is surprising, especially amid Bitcoin's elevated volatility," said Nomura analyst Dan Dolev in a report released Wednesday.
Saying Yes to Bitcoin
The results suggest that the Silicon Valley merchant services aggregator has a major opportunity to offer a cryptocurrency payments solutions for its customers, according Dolev, who rates SQ at buy with a $64 price target.
"Like Amazon in its early days, we believe that little of Square's future revenue streams are currently visible," wrote the Nomura analyst in the note to clients entitled "SQ Survey: Merchants Say YES! To Bitcoin."
“Bitcoin, for us, is not stopping at buying and selling,” stated Dorsey said on the firm’s fourth-quarter earnings call last month. “We do believe that this is a transformational technology for our industry and we want to learn as quickly as possible.” Late last year, the company began letting some customers buy bitcoin on its Cash App, later indicating that it was rolling out the option to almost all of its users. Dolev highlighted the fact that some 7 million people already use the Cash payment service, which allows individuals to send peer-to-peer (P2P) payments, store money, receive their paycheck and now, buy and sell bitcoin
Despite optimism around the opportunity, leading SQ to triple over 12 months, many are still skeptical over bitcoin's ability to succeed as a legitimate form of payment due to various issues including high fees, slow transaction times and extreme volatility. (See also: Square Stock at Risk on ‘Bitcoin Mania’: BTIG.)
Investing in cryptocurrencies and other Initial Coin Offerings (“ICOs”) is highly risky and speculative, and this article is not a recommendation by Investopedia or the writer to invest in cryptocurrencies or other ICOs. Since each individual's situation is unique, a qualified professional should always be consulted before making any financial decisions. Investopedia makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy or timeliness of the information contained herein. As of the date this article was written, the author owns cryptocurrency.