Rocket Internet, the incubator/investment vehicle from the Samwer brothers, is known to move fast: Today, news comes that Payleven, its recently outed Square-clone, has opened its doors in the UK, Netherlands, Poland and Brazil, in addition to its existing operation in native Germany. That looks like the beginnings of a pretty ambitious international expansion plan and will certainly keep European rivals iZettle and SumUp on their toes, along with the UK’s mPowa, given the Samwers’ reputation for aggressive execution. Meanwhile, Jack Dorsey’s Square is yet to launch this side of the pond.
As noted last month, Payleven reportedly raised “tens of millions” of euros in funding from New Enterprise Associates, Holtzbrinck Ventures and the Russian VC ru-net. Today, the company finally confirms that is indeed the case, describing the size of the round only as in the “double digit million euro” region.
iZettle, on the other hand, is backed to the tune of €42.6M, having recently raised a Series B round from Greylock Partners and Northzone, with participation from others — including payment giant MasterCard — along with SEB Private Equity, and previous investors Index Ventures and Creandum. SumUp, which operates in the UK, Germany, Ireland and Austria, is backed by an eight-figure Series A round, understood by TechCrunch to be over $20 million.
Like Square, iZettle and others, Payleven offers a plug ‘n’ pay solution for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets, via its own hardware add-on, client software and payments backend, so that merchants — small and independent businesses — can easily accept credit card payments from customers. It currently supports MasterCard and local bank cards in Germany and the Netherlands, while accepting Visa and American Express credit cards will be possible with the launch of “Chip & PIN” devices in a few weeks, says the company. That’s a much-needed iteration considering the ubiquity of Chip & PIN in countries like the UK and the difficulty that other players are finding when trying to get Visa-certified — the lack of support for Chip & PIN may also in part explain why Square is so far steering clear of Europe.
In terms of costs for merchants using Payleven, billing is transaction-based — no subscription fees — so the merchant only pays when using the service, and there is no minimum turnover. As an example, the company says that a MasterCard transaction in Europe costs 2.95% plus 9 cents.
As for those Rocket-fueled expansion plans, Payleven co-founder and Managing Director Dr. Alexander Zumdieck, is talking up the success that the company has seen in its first six weeks, since launching in Germany. “We are rapidly approaching round 1,000 partner merchants in our Berlin test market. Now we are expanding this success on a national and international scale”, he says in a canned statement.