Square announced yesterday their intention to set up a permanent location in the Kitchener-Waterloo area in 2014.
The office will be dedicated to an engineering team with space for up to 30 employees. Square currently has a co-working space in Kitchener with a small engineering team but this will mark the first official office for the mobile payment startup North of the border.
Setting up an office in Kitchener-Waterloo was important to Dorsey to continue to tap into the engineering wealth from the universities in the city. “Waterloo has been fantastic,” said Twitter and Square founder Jack Dorsey. “The engineering talent that we have managed to bring on to the team from that school is stunning. We want to see more of that.”
Dorsey went on to draw parallels between the growing Kitchener-Waterloo tech community and Silicon Valley saying “Waterloo has a similar energy to silicon valley. The thing that works in Silicon Valley is the sense of community, support and mentorship and I feel like what I saw of Waterloo had that same sort of feeling.”
As Square is building a global product, the engineering team in Kitchener-Waterloo will not be dedicated to developing for Canada only. Dorsey couldn’t speak to exactly what the team will be working on when they are hired but did say that “they will be working on a product that will first launch in the US and it’s quite exciting.”
Square’s Register launched in Canada back in October 24 of 2012 making it a year old in a few weeks. Canada was one of the first markets for Square to expand into outside of the US and, according to the Square team, they have seen amazing momentum so far.
Square shared that Canadian activations were up five times what they were at the start of the year and that their average transaction size in Q2 of 2013 was three times the previous quarter. To date, Square has processed globally $15 billion transactions annually. This last number doesn’t include its partnership with Starbucks which means that these transactions were all small to medium sized businesses.
But the Square Register is only half of what Square is doing in the United States. Square Wallet, the app that lets you pay with your name, is still missing here in Canada but Dorsey says they have full intention to bring it here when they can.
“We would like to make all our products available to all the markets that we are in,” explained Dorsey. “There are a lot more barriers that we need to get through with each one of them including the regulatory hurdles. We are pushing as fast as we can but it’s been slower than we like. We’d like to bring it here as we love it in the States.”
Dorsey says that the key to getting people used to the idea of paying with their name is in showing and not telling. He explained that enabling the “wow moment” when someone sees someone in front of them just put a coffee on their tab is critical to the adoption and spread of this new payment behavior. He did admit that this will take some time.
Dorsey spent some time at the University of Waterloo yesterday to talk to students and entrepreneurs before heading to Toronto for the accelerateTO even hosted by C100.