Square Exec discusses the trends in metaverse and electronic payments

As major retailers ponder the potential of the Metaverse as their next revenue stream, most retailers are far from mind. Many are new to electronic payment technology.

But does the average Main Street retailer see? these virtual goods and environments as a future profit center? We asked this question and much more to Roshan Jhunja, Square’s Managing Director and Head of Retail.

Square was launched in 2009 to enable small businesses to accept credit card payments and use tablets as point of sale registers. The company’s main customers remain small and medium-sized enterprises. That said, in its 13-year history, Square has expanded into consumer payments (Cash App), music streaming (Tidal), cryptocurrency (Spiral), and financial services, from payroll and human resources, including Afterpay, a “buy now, pay later” loan. on installment which, together with colleagues Klarna, Sezzle and Affirm, has be subject to control by the mainstream press.

Square rebranded itself as Block at the end of 2021, but retains many products and services under the Square brand.

Square launched ecommerce hosting. Why was it a good strategy to look for established companies like Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento and even marketplaces like Amazon – which are your e-payment partners in some cases?

Roshan Jhuja

Roshan Jhunja: Our DNA is in the brick and mortar. You compare us to the pop-up store at the farmer’s market, the coffee shop. It is always personal payment. We especially want to enable sellers who started offline or in-store to go online.

We have ways for customers to create online stores, and you can sell on TikTok and Instagram. Much of this has been accelerated by the pandemic. We’ve tried to make sure sellers can move from their in-store sales experience to an online sales experience. Now it is a large omnichannel continuum. This is where we are; we empower sellers who know a lot about in-person selling to tackle the highly complex world of digital selling across all these different channels and markets.

It was launched just before the pandemic. And then what happened?

Jhunja: If you plotted adoption as a curve, I think the pandemic has pushed us much further and faster. We already went there. Most people, when they change their behavior – be it a consumer looking to buy online or a seller looking to start selling online – need a helping hand, a reason to do so. It’s either critical mass, like your customers coming in and asking, “Why don’t you have a website?” or sellers want to expand and attract a new audience.

The pandemic was a powerful push because you had no other choice – if you wanted to stay in business, you can’t physically sell anymore, so everyone had to build sites overnight and figure out what was happening online. It forced a lot of thought and gave people a kick they wouldn’t have had otherwise.

From your perspective of working with all retailers – not just big chains are experimenting with the metaverse – is there a lot of enthusiasm for selling in the metaverse?

Jhunja: Within our supplier base – mostly small suppliers, one to three physical physical locations, maybe online, with three employees – we listen to what they want us to do now. What do their customers ask of them? Until now, their customers may be asking them to sell live on TikTok. These are the trader’s opportunities to connect with conversational trading. Or “I want to be able to text back and forth and check out that way.”

I haven’t heard many requests from our suppliers for the metaverse yet. If it pops up, we’re going to check it out 100% and see what we can offer them. The approach won’t differ from our approach in any other retail location: take something that’s probably complex enough for the average seller to figure out on their own and make it accessible. Give them a way to grab their existing catalog, promote it, figure out how to close a sale on the metaverse.

The pandemic has increased the popularity of technologies that support credit and installment payments, such as Klarna. Block bought Afterpay earlier this year. Why is there such a craze for these automated services right now?

Jhunja: It grew like crazy, that’s why we bought Afterpay. They started in Australia where there is now much greater penetration of buy, pay later, just as direct selling started in China. Will it still resonate with people in the United States? I think from what we see, the answer is yes. It tends to resonate well with a younger consumer demographic.

Gen Z either don’t have access to credit — they don’t have enough credit history to earn traditional credit cards — or they’re just afraid of going into debt and paying late fees. The good thing about buying now, paying later is that if you miss a payment, the world will stop and wait for you to catch up. They won’t let you dig deeper into the hole. It also makes a large purchase more accessible. It’s not a sticker shock on the front. You can spread it out a bit. We are now seeing a lot of traction online. We’ll see if that also applies to the store. This is a fairly convenient means of payment that buyers are getting used to.

Have you heard a call among Square users to? trade without a heador is it more advanced than necessary?

Jhunja: I wouldn’t say way After. We have larger, more complex suppliers that have their own developers and agencies. They want customization, they want to custom configure things and we have that opportunity. In any case, we are building a set of recommended partner agencies that know and can work with the Square ecosystem.

What is the typical Square customer who sells live? Is it a company of a certain size or does it sell certain types of products that lend themselves to being viewed?

Jhunja: It’s no different from what sellers livestream [everywhere] are successful, that is, women’s clothing. This is where it all started. You also have many women’s accessories such as boutique handbags, high-end luxury clothing and unique accessories that sell very well.

With the most popular live streaming hosts – that’s a big part of live streaming, by the way – it’s not just about what you buy. It’s about the personality and quirks of the person you buy from, who shows you all the things and you dance with them.

This Q&A has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Don Fluckinger covers enterprise content management, CRM, marketing automation, e-commerce, customer service, and assistive technologies for TechTarget.

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