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Rocket Internet's Square clone Payleven cracks "chip-and-PIN ceiling" Written by Nina Fowler on 4. October 2012


Rocket Internet’s Payleven just took a step beyond its Square clone status with a new chip-and-PIN device, billed as the first of its kind in continental Europe. The device – complete with separate keypad – will be shipped out later this year.

Payleven, like Square, iZettle, SumUp, mPowa and a few others, offers a “plug and pay” mobile payments solution, allowing merchants to accept credit card payments through their smartphones, a free app and a plug-in “dongle”.

Lining that idea up with the various requirements across credit card companies and countries seems to be the tricky part. Visa in Europe, for example, only allows mobile payments with chip-and-PIN authorisation (rather than an electronic signature).

iZettle, operating in Scandinavia and the UK and getting ready to head to Germany, has experienced problems accepting Visa payments apparently caused by its chip-and-signature solution. UK-based mPowa already claims a chip-and-PIN solution.

Payleven’s announcement this week will give it an edge over rivals in Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and Italy (it’s also active in the UK and Brazil). Compatibility with a good range of mobile devices and first mover advantages will also be important.

Time to lose the “clone” tag?

The new device is also interesting as a build on the idea pioneered by Square, which is yet to leave the US. The “clone factory” tag still sticks to Rocket Internet (and a reputation for being press-shy) but Payleven at least seems to be making a break beyond it.

Rocket Internet, founded by the Samwer brothers in Berlin in 2007, focuses mostly on e-commerce but backs at least two other payments solutions – BillPay, similar to PayPal’s Bill Me Later, and Paymill, a copy of hot US startup Stripe.


Rocket Internet’s Square clone Payleven hits UK, Brazil, confirms double-digit million funding
SumUp raises $20m plus to tackle mobile payments in Europe
Startup of the Week – iZettle, payment on-the-go made easy