The downfall of payments processing company Square shouldn’t be news to anyone who is deeply entrenched in the industry.
The company’s balance sheet was always mysterious to those that understand the business behind transactions; But Fortune, this week, got its hands on some interesting information:
Some earlier reports suggest Square loses money on every transaction in its core payments business. But internal e-mails show that gross margins on transactions — the amount of profit left after paying card processors, payment networks and other intermediaries — are a relatively healthy 34%. On a $100 transaction, the company takes a cut of about $3, which it records as revenue and from which it earns about $1 in gross profit. According to the internal e-mails, company is processing about $30 billion in transactions annually, which would put its gross profit at an annual rate of about $300 million. (These figures exclude the transactions Square handles on behalf of Starbucks; more on that below.)
Internal projections show that the company expects to start turning a profit about a year from now, according to the documents reviewed by Fortune. (An alternate plan that contemplates more aggressive investments in new products shows profitability would be delayed by a couple of months but would increase at a faster rate afterwards.) Though the company expects its cash reserves to decline between now and then, its projections show that a turnaround will happen before Square would run out of cash. Further, the company recently secured a $225 million line of credit — a total higher than what has been previously reported — that will give it additional breathing room. People familiar with the company’s finances say that its projections are relatively conservative, and do not include revenue from Square’s new (and as yet unproven) products, which could conceivably help the company reach profitability sooner.
Though the company recorded am overall loss of roughly $100 million in 2013, its EBITDA loss, a commonly used accounting measure, was $67 million, according to the internal e-mails. The loss, which excludes Starbucks transactions, was $12 million lower than the company had projected and slightly smaller than the year before, the e-mails show.