Square, a mobile payment startup company headed by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, will open its first permanent Canadian office in Kitchener-Waterloo.

“The engineering discipline, and all the technology thinking, and support and mentorship that is happening in the city, it makes it a very easy choice,” said Dorsey, during a visit to the University of Waterloo Thursday.

“We’ve seen this in a lot of other college towns around America certainly, but this one is quite special.” 

The office will be open in 2014, but a location in the city has yet to be determined, a spokeswoman for the company said.

Jack Dorsey

Twitter co-Founder Jack Dorsey's new startup company Square will open an office in Kitchener in .... (Associated Press/Mary Altaffer) (The Associated Press)

“Our focus in Waterloo is going to be engineering, but if there’s great designers here, we’ll hire them as well,” said Dorsey.

The company will employ 30 engineers locally. It already has a temporary workspace set up in the Breithaupt Block in Kitchener.

“We have a lot of engineers who are programming Android up here right now,” said Dorsey, adding there were also a few programming in iOS. The company would not confirm the exact number of employees currently working in Kitchener-Waterloo.

Square has over 600 employees around the world, with offices in San Francisco, Atlanta, New York and Japan.

Mobile payment options

Retailers who use Square to process payments need a card reader, which can be plugged into a phone or tablet's headphone jack, and the Square app. Once they've downloaded the app, they can process sales through their mobile devices.

"A lot of our competitors, there’s someone building a credit card terminal, someone building a point-of-sale, someone building an analytics package, someone building loyalty and coupons, someone building hardware. We do the entire thing," said Dorsey.

"It's all in one package and you can download it for free."

Dorsey also highlighted two other Square developments, Square Cash and the Square Wallet app, which aren't yet available in Canada. Dorsey said he hoped to bring them soon, but did not specify a timeline.

Square Cash offers a way to email cash to any recipient, as long as they have a debit card. The sender writes an email with the dollar amount in the subject line, copies cash@square.com and sends the email. The recipient will get that an email, and then an email from Square. Once the recipient clicks the button in the email from Square, they're prompted to enter their debit card number and expiry date, and the money is deposited to the debit card. 

"Again, showing the power of commerce as communication. This is a very, very social, thing. Why did we forget this?" said Dorsey.

Square Wallet is an app that uses location technology to apply charges to a user's credit card. The user checks-in on the app at a participating business, then gives their name at the register, and the user's credit card is automatically charged.

"I didn't have to take my phone out at all," said Dorsey, describing a hypothetical scenario where he ordered a coffee at a coffee shop.

"I just paid with my presence."