Square Q1 earnings set to show pick-up in transactions amid economic recovery, surge in bitcoin revenue

Square (SQ) is poised to report first-quarter earnings results after market close on Thursday, with the payments company’s results likely boosted by ongoing growth in Cash App and its cryptocurrency offerings.

Here were the main metrics Wall Street is expecting to see from Square’s report, based on consensus estimates compiled by Bloomberg:

  • Revenue: $3.38 billion expected vs. $1.38 billion Y/Y 

  • Adjusted earnings: 16 cents per share expected vs. loss of 2 cents per share Y/Y

As a financial technology company, Square’s growth ballooned over the course of 2020, with consumers increasingly conducting transactions online and through Cash App. 

And with the economic recovery now well under way and consumers flush with savings and stimulus checks, first-quarter transactions likely grew even further, though the pace of expansion for the rest of the year remains a key question for Wall Street. Consensus economists expect to see Square’s transaction services revenue to grow 15% in the first quarter over last year to $871.7 million. And gross payment volume is likely to come in at $30.1 billion, or up 17% year-on-year.

Record first-quarter results from payments competitor PayPal (PYPL) on Wednesday also underscored the acceleration in digital transactions at the start of 2021. That company’s total payments volume grew 50% to $285 billion, and net new active accounts grew by 14.5 million to 392 million. 

Digital transactions aside, Square may have also seen a pick-up in-person transactions, with stay-in-place orders easing across the country over the past several months. Hardware revenue — which includes Square’s flagship point-of-sale terminals that provide merchants with devices to accept payments in-stores — likely grew 15.2% to $24.2 million during the quarter. And subscription revenue, including seller subscriptions, likely surged 67% to $494.6 million. 

UKRAINE - 2021/02/13: In this photo illustration,  Square logo of the U.S. financial services is seen on a smartphone screen. (Photo Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

UKRAINE – 2021/02/13: In this photo illustration, Square logo of the U.S. financial services is seen on a smartphone screen. (Photo Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

But one of Square’s biggest growth areas and most lucrative parts of the business is also one of its newest. Square is expected to report bitcoin revenue of just over $2 billion for the first quarter, soaring 567% from the $306 million the company posted in the same three months of last year. Cash App has been allowing users to buy, sell and hold bitcoin for the past three years, and cryptocurrency-related transactions on the platform have soared in recent quarters in tandem with skyrocketing cryptocurrency prices. Square posted its first-ever quarter generating more than $1 billion in bitcoin-related revenue in the third quarter of 2020. 

Square also suggested that the momentum continued into the start of 2021: In late February, Square said more than 1 million customers purchased bitcoin for the first time in January 2021, after more than 3 million customers purchased or sold bitcoin on Cash App throughout all of 2020. The company also said it bought another $170 million in bitcoin in the fourth quarter, increasing its bet on the cryptocurrency in a move to keep engagement elevated on its platforms. 

“In 2020, customer adoption beyond peer-to-peer increased across all of our products compared to the prior year, and we saw new customers adopt products like Cash Card and bitcoin within their first month at a higher rate,” Square said in its last fourth-quarter update. “Bitcoin has helped increase gross profit per active customer and engagement in our broader ecosystem as bitcoin actives use other products, such as Cash Card and direct deposit, more frequently compared to the average Cash App customer.” 

Shares of Square have risen 6.5% for the year-to-date through the close of May 5, slowing after a surge of nearly 250% in 2020.  

This post will be updated with the results of Square’s Q1 report Thursday after market close. Check back for updates.

Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @emily_mcck

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