Square today launched a new service that will allow its small business sellers to offer financing to their customers. Square Installments, as the service is called, will be available at launch to sellers in 22 U.S. states for purchases between $250 and $10,000. Customers can apply to pay for their purchase over three, six, or 12 months.
Interest rates for the purchases will range between 0 and 24 percent, Square says, and decisions on approvals will be made in real time.
The company designed the process to be quick and transparent, only requiring a brief application process that can be done at any time — including either in the store or at home. When approved, Square also spells out what the total cost will be, and displays the monthly payment options available.
Square says it came to the decision to move into consumer lending services because of customer demand. A survey it ran indicated there was strong demand for more flexible payment options among U.S. consumers. It also cited research that found that 68 percent of consumers said they would be more likely to consider a small or local business if it offered financing options.
But many smaller businesses have not been able to offer payment programs, because they either have minimum sales requirements they can’t meet, or because set up time is too labor intensive or expensive, Square explains.
“We’re focused on removing the complexity associated with financial products, enabling more businesses to access incredible tools that can help them grow,” said Jacqueline Reses, head of Square Capital, in a statement about the launch. “Square Installments delivers simple and quick financing to customers seeking greater flexibility as they make purchasing decisions.”
Square isn’t alone in addressing the needs of smaller sellers who want to offer payment programs.
A number of companies offer consumers alternative means of paying for purchases beyond just cash, check or charge these days. For example, Sezzle targets consumers with low FICO scores; London-based Divido is expanding to new markets after raising a Series A; Affirm now has more than 1,000 retail partners; there’s also FuturePay, Afterpay, Klarna’s Slice, PayPal Credit and many others.
However, not all are suitable for smaller sellers, like those who may run their businesses on Square.
The new Square Installments service is being run out of Square Capital, a subsidiary of Square that also offers cash advances to merchants. In the second quarter of 2018, Square Capital originated more than 60,000 loans totally $390 million, up 22 percent from the second quarter last year.
Sellers who want to start offering Square Installments to their customers can go to squareup.com/installments, while customers who want to make a purchase using Square Installments can visit squareinstallments.com.