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Square: Learning Banking Truths the Hard Way

Gross payments on Square’s readers, shown here, and other devices grew by 45% from a...

Investors in financial-technology firms seeking to disrupt the business of lending are waking up to a basic fact: The money for loans has to come from somewhere.

Take Square, SQ -21.69 % which just reported what looked on the surface to be a decent quarter. Gross payments on its card readers and other devices grew by 45% from a year earlier, reaching $10.3 billion. Revenue rose 51%, beating expectations. And the company strengthened its guidance, saying it could break even next quarter on the...