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Square's bitcoin move has caused internal disagreement - CEO Dorsey

By Anna Irrera and Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss
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Jack Dorsey, CEO and co-founder of Twitter and founder and CEO of Square, speaks at the Consensus 2018 blockchain technology conference in New York City

Jack Dorsey, CEO and co-founder of Twitter and founder and CEO of Square, speaks at the Consensus 2018 blockchain technology conference in New York City, New York, U.S., May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar

By Anna Irrera and Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Square Inc's <SQ.N> decision to allow users of its mobile app to buy and sell bitcoin this year was a "pretty contentious move within the company" and remains a source of internal tension, the payment processor's CEO Jack Dorsey said on Wednesday.

Speaking at a cryptocurrency conference in New York, Dorsey, who is also the chief executive of Twitter Inc <TWTR.N>, reiterated his support for the virtual coin, but noted that not everyone within Square shared his views, including members of the board.

"We have a lot of healthy scepticism in the company and a lot of people were certainly sceptics of this technology," Dorsey said. "There is still a lot of scepticism, and still a lot of debate and disagreements and fights, but that is where the magic happens."

He added that the "healthy discussion" around bitcoin extended "all the way at the board level", without elaborating on specifics.

In January, Square, a San Francisco-based company largely known for its credit card processing hardware for small businesses, began allowing users of its consumer payment service Cash App to buy and sell bitcoin.

The company made $34.1 million (£25.2 million) in revenue from the new bitcoin offering in the first quarter of this year, but its bitcoin costs were $33.9 million, according to a May shareholder letter.

Proponents of bitcoin say that it can help democratize finance by offering a way to bypass banks and governments, and conduct transactions more cheaply.

But it has failed to take hold as a payment for mainstream goods and services, in part because of extreme volatility, slow transaction processing, and widespread doubts about its long-term viability.

The volatility of bitcoin and other digital currencies have, however, made them attractive speculative assets. The price of one bitcoin peaked in December to almost $20,000 and has since dropped to less than half that.

Dorsey, a known bitcoin enthusiast, said he believes the internet will have its own "native currency." He said he hoped that would be bitcoin. "I am a huge fan," he said.

A spokesman for Square told Reuters that the company does not have figures to share on Dorsey's bitcoin and cryptocurrency holdings.

Dorsey said wider acceptance of bitcoin could help Square expand globally.

"If we were able to use it as a currency today (...) we could release our apps in every app store around the world," he said.


(Reporting by Anna Irrera, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)