Square breaks out of North America, starting with Japan

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square japan

The next time you enter a tiny Shibuya noodle bar, you could end up paying with one of Square’s payment technologies.

The startup announced today that it’s launching in Japan, its second location outside of the U.S. (it hit Canada in October 2012), and its first market outside of of North America. Square partnered with Japan’s Sumitomo Mitsui Card Corporation (SMCC) to make the move, the same company that helped bring Visa to Japan.

Square’s mobile credit card reader and apps will be free to us, and it’s charging a 3.25 percent transaction fee (slightly higher than the 2.75 percent fee it charges in North America).

It makes sense for Square to target Japan next — it’s a country that’s been heavily dependent on mobile technology long before smartphones were big in the U.S.. Square’s founder Jack Dorsey has also been a big proponent of the Japanese design philosophy wabi-sabi, which focuses on the beauty of impermanent and imperfect things.

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