Square Finds Itself Encircled

Rivals have underbid the payments pioneer, and with tailored software
Photograph by Yuriko Nakao/Bloomberg

Four years ago, when its little card reader attachments for phones and tablets began to show up in cabs and at farmers’ markets, Square was one of the coolest, most innovative companies in Silicon Valley. Building an infrastructure of card readers from scratch was a challenge—especially through small-business owners and word-of-mouth. Still, for people who couldn’t use checkout counters for their customer transactions, Square offered unparalleled convenience. That’s over.

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