Square rolls out charge-back protection for merchants

VENTUREBEAT: Today, Square announced a new program for merchants that protects them when customers dispute purchases. When buyers contest a charge on their credit or debit card, that money is immediately put on hold. That means the merchant loses the money generated from the sale as well as the product or service it sold. Starting today, Square is giving merchants in the U.S. and Canada access to charge-back protection, which will cover the money being held in instances of fraud. Meaning, sellers won’t lose out on sales that are being contested. Square will cover expenses related to sales disputes up to $250 per month.

Since last year, when the Wall Street Journal reported that Square lost $100 million in 2013, Square has leaned into its offering of small business products. After taking a $150 million round of funding last October, the company launched a suite of business tools. In 2014 the company rolled out its appointments, analytics, and inventory applications.

The company also launched Square Capital last year, a cash advance service for merchants. Later this year the company will be rolling out a program called Instant Deposits, which gives merchants better access to money slated for deposit in debit accounts. The feature is currently in beta.

While Square has certainly built out its seller offering over the past year, that doesn’t mean it has abandoned the consumer side of its business. Though the company shuttered Square Wallet last year, Square now has two apps in its place: Square Cash and Square Order. Square Cash is a peer-to-peer payment protocol like PayPal and Venmo. To help compete with the slew of like products already on the market, Square recently partnered with Snapchat on a product called Snapcash, which allows Snapchatters to sling each other cash through the ephemeral messaging platform.

The company has been otherwise busy updating merchants with the appropriate hardware ahead of Visa and Mastercard’s push for chip-and-pin credit cards. In November, the company announced a chip-and-pin card reader for pre-order, which the company expected to start shipping sometime in the first quarter of 2015.

Square has also been spending time building up products for the food industry, where the company got its start as a payment processor for small coffee shops. Square Order, for example, allows users to pre-order coffee and sandwiches for pickup. The company also acquired Caviar, a company that hooks upscale restaurants up with delivery infrastructure, so that consumers can get food delivery from a wider spectrum of restaurants.

But, for the time being, Square’s real money maker is still small business products, not consumer-facing apps. In 2014 Square processed its one billionth payment. The company’s merchants also surpassed $100 million in sales in a single day during the holiday rush.

Now, armed with a host of seller products, the company just needs to grow its base of users.