We reported on events last March in Block: Easy Target. It's true that the meteoric growth of the company formerly known as Square - it multiplied its sales by twelve in eight years - added to the eccentricities of its founder could hardly go without arousing suspicion.

There's a bit of everything among the listed players in the online payments sector. PayPal, whose expansion has largely been based on a strategy of all-out external growth; Adyen, the anti-PayPal, which has opted for organic growth; Worldline, whose shaky assembly has recently faltered.

Block is a kind of PayPal on steroids, which has gradually emancipated itself from its traditional Square-linked payment services business to develop its much-maligned CashApp app and move into cryptocurrencies - bitcoin in particular.

In terms of growth, it's clear that Block is leading the pack: the Square segment will see its sales increase by 12% in 2023, although it will not escape the margin squeeze that is also affecting its peers; CashApp, on the other hand, continues to do extremely well, with sales growth of 33% over the past year.

CashApp has overtaken Square to account for two-thirds of Block's consolidated sales. This is certainly where the risk lies, since this growth is mainly driven by bitcoin, with cryptocurrency transactions also accounting for two-thirds of CashApp's revenues.

This won't faze bitcoin enthusiasts, but more conservative investors will undoubtedly see it as a red-flag warning sign. It's also worth noting that Block itself has invested in bitcoin, albeit for a negligible amount in relation to its assets or market capitalization.

Block and PayPal are valued on comparable sales multiples. One notable difference between the two is that PayPal - not in the best of times at present - generates between $3 and $4 billion in free cash flow per year, whereas Block continues to lose money and burn through insane amounts in stock options.

Two companies operating in similar business segments, but targeting very different investor audiences.