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Square’s Venmo competitor — the Cash app — had more than seven million customers in December

That’s ... pretty big?

A person holds a smartphone that shows the Square Cash app on the screen.
The Square Cash app in use
Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

Since Square’s founding in 2009, CEO Jack Dorsey has been determined to build a consumer hit that complements the company’s core payment-processing business.

There was Square Wallet. There was Square Order. Neither of them worked.

But in 2013, Square unveiled the Cash money-transfer service — and it may finally be paying off.

On Tuesday, Square revealed for the first time how many customers use the Cash app, and it’s a big number — seven million in the month of December alone, the company said in its quarterly letter to shareholders. (These “active customers” either received or sent money using the Cash app in the month of December. That means people who merely opened the app are not counted in the metric.)

It’s possible that the December number is boosted by the holidays, but it would seem that money-transfer services are less seasonal than, say, straight-up credit-card spending.

So how does that compare to Venmo — the presumptive leader among the new breed of digital-first, money-transfer services? Well, Venmo hasn’t released that metric ... yet.

What we do know is that in August, Verto Analytics estimated that Venmo had 10 million unique monthly users compared to an estimated three million for Cash at the time. Industry insiders have also speculated that Venmo has at least two times the number of monthly customers as Cash; perhaps we’ll get some clarity from Venmo during its parent company PayPal’s next earnings announcement in a few months.

Currently, Cash is the No. 1 free finance app in Apple’s U.S. iPhone App Store — one spot ahead of PayPal and three spots ahead of Venmo.

Either way, it’s clear that Cash has established itself as a legitimate player in the money-transfer market.

The app generates revenue by charging customers to be able to instantly cash out their money, if they so choose, and by allowing businesses to accept customer payments through the app.

Over the last 18 months, Square has also introduced both virtual and physical Cash payment cards that allow people to spend money they receive through the app.

Cash customers spent more than $90 million in December using these virtual and physical Cash cards.

The No. 1 and No. 2 most popular merchants on the receiving end of Cash payments? McDonald’s and Walmart, which seems to indicate potential mass appeal — whereas Square’s previous consumer products seemed more targeted at early-adopter types.

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