Square doubles down on banking, with fee-free checking and savings accounts for businesses
Square, best known for its small-business payment systems, is becoming a full-fledged neobank, offering checking and savings accounts to its users.
Starting Tuesday, Square will start offering fee-free checking and savings accounts to users, after obtaining a banking charter earlier this year. The new checking service, Square Checking, is a natural extension of the company’s debit card, which launched in 2019, says Christina Riechers, Square Banking’s head of product.
Existing Square debit card users will be automatically rolled into the new FDIC-insured checking account. Square is continuing to use Sutton Bank as its partner to provide this account.
New customers can open an account without any of the traditional minimum deposits or monthly maintenance fees that can typically run $8 to $12 a month. Another bonus: Square doesn’t limit the number of transactions users can process each month or allow overdrafts. At some of the biggest banks, fees for excess transactions range up to 75¢ each, while overdraft fees can set customers back nearly $40 per occurrence.
When it comes to ATM fees, Square itself doesn’t levy any, but customers may have to pay a small operator fee. Square doesn’t operate any of its own ATMs, but the company says its debit card can be used at any ATM that accepts Mastercard debit cards. Square is also planning to soon allow users to deposit checks—a commonplace feature at traditional banks like Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase—using the Square Point of Sale app.
The new checking account will provide users with instant access to the credit card sales they process via Square. Users can immediately use those funds via the Square debit card, make ACH transfers, or directly pay employees using Square Payroll.
The other new service, Square Savings, will be offered under the new Square Financial Services. It is also a fee-free account and offers a flat 0.5% APY, which is among the highest interest rates currently being offered in a business savings account. The 0.5% interest rate will run through Dec. 31, 2021, after which Square says the rates will be subject to change.
Existing customers will be able to enroll in the new FDIC-insured account, which does offer some automated savings functions. Sellers can design multiple folders for different needs, such as quarterly taxes or future equipment purchases, and then set up savings goals for each that will automatically direct, for example, 1% of sales toward a specific goal.
As with Square’s checking options, customers can open a savings account with no minimum deposit, and there are no ongoing monthly maintenance fees or balance requirements.
“The fact that Square savings and checking accounts don’t have any fees with them ends up being a bigger deal than we might have even realized,” Riechers says, adding that when she’s previously spoken with sellers, one of the big things that has kept them using a personal checking account rather than opening a business bank account has been the fees.
Square’s latest foray into banking comes at a time when the company has seen increased usage among small businesses. Last year, the number of active Square debit card sellers increased 140% year over year, according to the company. Additionally, total balances among these sellers increased 250% in the same time period.
Along with the new checking and savings accounts, Square is rebranding its lending arm as Square Loans (previously called Square Capital). Riechers says that there are “no fundamental changes” to these loans but that this unit will now be part of Square’s banking suite of products. So if a seller goes to their banking dashboard, they will be able to see if they have a loan offer, for example.
“Being connected to payments just gives us a really strong base to offer something quite special to our sellers,” says Riechers, “and to continue on this mission of economic empowerment; to continue expanding access to small-business owners.”
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