Square acquires Evenly, P2P payments high on its agenda

On October 16th 2013, Square had publicly launched Square Cash with a lot of media fanfare. Square Cash is a peer-to-peer money exchange system that enables users to transfer money to their friends just by sending an email. Square is also going through this phase where card reader business has grown well so far but faces growth challenge going ahead.

Square is taking person to person payments quite seriously. It is also one of the reasons that the company was actively bidding on Braintree earlier this year. They lost this bid to PayPal, but there was a lot of high stakes drama. There were about six companies that Square had to consider to try and replicate one aspect of Braintree, Venmo. Evenly had a good product with some really great talent. The company will be shut down with all parties moving to Square offices working on new projects.

It seems that there is just as much as a technology acquisition and a talent acquisition. It would not be fair to call Evenly a close match to Venmo although the tech press seems to draw this conclusion. There are some elements that are similar but not to a significant level in my view.

Ironically Ivy (Evenly) looked very much like a Square advertisement in 2012.

Evenly started life as Ivy, a Janurary 2012 project started at Duke and later at NYU’s Medical School. The focus was not on the sender but the recipient. They designed tools that made that process to request payment perhaps a step or two less then other systems. The Duke test ran over $100,000 in the first few months. The name was changed to Evenly to better reflect the product.

The now canceled Evenly App Screen Shots.

Evenly did ok for the last few months but never really broke out of the niche of students sending money to other students. This of course has limited market reach and long term viability. But now that Square acquires Evenly there are growth opportunities.

The team that put together Evenly is really quite talented. However, there is nothing revolutionary in the way Evenly approached the market and can easily be duplicated by Square or other competitors.

There is little doubt the team will work with Square Cash and some aspects of how Square is planning to integrate this with merchant payments.

Now the question is, how will Square respond to the New PayPal person to person system that will likely be introduced in Q1 2014 along with a more refined system Google has recently tested. Not to mention the very aggressive work Square’s banking partner, Chase Bank is developing in universal person to person payments scheduled to be announced in Q1 2014.

It will be interesting times.