Square launches payments in Australia, its first country expansion in nearly three years

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It’s been almost three years since Square expanded its mobile payments service into a new country — it most recently hit Japan, its first foray outside of North America, in May 2013 — but this week it went Down Under with a long-awaited launch in Australia.

Square, which went public last year and operates in four countries, partnered with payment enabler Cuscal for the launch. The company has had an office in Melbourne since May last year, fueling speculation of an impending launch.

Customers in Australia will pay 1.9 percent on each transaction that they process. That’s lower than the U.S., where its rates are a standard 2.75 percent, 2.9 percent plus $0.30 for online, and 3.5 percent and $0.15 for manual transactions.

Its rivals in Australia’s payment space include PayPal, PayPal-owned Braintree and local players like Mint Payments and Tyro Payments, but Square country manager Ben Pfisterer told the Sydney Morning Herald that he believes cash and a lack of awareness of options among merchants are the fiercest challengers.

It’s not clear whether this launch will usher further expansions from Square, the company still hasn’t entered the UK or Germany to name just two markets that could be on its radar.

Square’s share price reached $12.24 as of Monday, which is the second highest it has been since the end of December. The company opened at $11.20 when it listed on the New York Stock Exchange in November. While that was a pop on an initial listing price of $9, it left the company valued around $2.9 billion, less than half of the $6 billion valuation it secured for its final round of private financing.

Updated to correct that the last expansion was three years not two years ago