Square extends lending arm to Australian businesses with Square Loans

Square extends lending arm to Australian businesses with Square Loans

Today, Square announced it will be rolling out Square Loans in Australia, a program that helps small businesses grow by giving them quick and simple access to funds. Australia will be the first global market, outside of the US, where the payments company will launch its lending product.

“It’s no secret that small businesses in Australia have historically faced huge hurdles when it comes to accessing formal forms of funding,” said Samina Hussain-Letch, Head of Industry & Payments at Square Australia (pictured). “They’re often forced to pour over piles of paperwork, provide years of financial information, and put up personal guarantees that can be riddled with red tape.”

“As the Australian economy recovers from the effects of the pandemic, and government stimulus payments begin to dry up, small businesses need our help now more than ever to continue to run and grow their businesses, while creating jobs,” she said.

Research commissioned by Square has found that more than half of small businesses in Australia have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than a quarter seeing revenue losses of more than 50%.

“There’s never been a more important time for more choice in the lending market, and so we’re delighted that we can offer our Australian sellers simple and quick access to funding through Square Loans,” Hussain-Letch said.

By using historical transaction data, Square Loans has a straightforward application process, where no paperwork is needed, and sellers get their money as soon as the next business day. Businesses will have one clear upfront loan fee which will automatically be paid back as a set percentage of daily card sales on Square — so they pay more back when sales are strong and less if things slow down. Unlike the structure of traditional loans, the cost to the seller never changes, regardless of how long it takes them to repay Square.

Research from Square highlighted that only one in four Australian small businesses have ever accessed any form of formal funding, such as a business bank loan, but two thirds of business owners have relied on private sources of funding, such as personal credit cards or borrowing from friends and family. The research also found that business owners were even less likely to have accessed formal funding, and more likely to have used personal finances, if they were women or aged under 40 years. As the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, one in five businesses intend to apply for a formal loan.

“Many small business advocates have acknowledged that traditional lending processes in Australia aren’t flexible enough for small businesses,” said Hussain-Letch. “Overly onerous and lengthy processes from big banks will act as a deterrent to small businesses and will force many to borrow from less secure means. What we’re bringing to market solves that issue.”

Since the initial launch of Square’s loan product in the US, Square has facilitated more than USD$8 billion in financing to more than 435,000 small businesses.

Square expects to see similar momentum in Australia as local businesses continue turning to the platform as the engine to run their operations. Square recently added a number of products and services to its Australian portfolio, including an all-in-one payments processing device, dedicated point-of-sale software for retailers and restaurants, and deeper functionality for its Online Store to adapt to the changing business environment.