23. January 2013–
As the popularity of smartphones increases and payment with credit/debit cards becomes more widespread in Europe, small merchants are beginning to turn to mobile point-of-sale (POS) solutions to help process sales.
For the makers of those solutions, there's a big and growing market at stake. According to results recently released by Visa Europe for the year ending 30 September 2012, total spending by Visa cardholders grew by eight per cent to €1.3 trillion – with annual spending on debit cards exceeding €1 trillion for the first time in Europe.
Who will come out on top in 2013?
Last year, mobile plug 'n' pay – one type of mobile POS solution – received a lot of hype, with several European Square-like startups sprouting and clamouring for market share. With most companies offering very similar services that typically involve a free app and card-reading dongle, it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish the players.
Unsurprisingly, user security is panning out to be a hot topic. For makers of devices, meeting the requirements of credit companies is a key challenge, which was evident when Visa Europe shut down acceptance for certain companies last year for failing to meet Visa's standards for user authentication.
While the heavy hitters scramble to outrun each other, we've put the rivals side-by-side and created an infographic – which should be read with the text below it – to give you a snapshot of who's doing what and how.
Since types of cards accepted and pricing structure can vary between countries, we've chosen to focus on Germany for those two sections. A bigger version of the infographic can also be found as a thumbnail below...
Stockholm-based iZettle is shaping up to be one of the biggest players. The company totals €42.6m in funding, boasts an impressive line of investors (MasterCard, American Express and Index – to name a few) and has announced crucial partnerships in Germany (with DZ BANK and Deutsche Telekom).
Card reader security: Chip and sign
Advantages: Available in Nordic countries, accepts payments from a variety of cards
Disadvantages: Merchants have to pay for dongle. Visa transactions cannot be used with card reader alone but require customer to enter their phone number into the app and confirm card details via SMS.
Payleven, formerly known as ZenPay and EvoPay, is Rocket Internet's answer to Square. The company recently announced a new "high single digit USD million dollar" investment coming largely from an undisclosed backer who joins existing investors New Enterprise Associates, Holtzbrinck Ventures and ru-Net.
Card reader security: Swipe and sign
Advantages: Getting ready to launch a Visa-compliant chip and pin standalone device, currently used in a trial partnership with German taxi network Taxiverband Berlin Brandenburg (not yet available to merchants)
Disadvantages: Current service doesn't accept Visa, only compatible with a limited range of Android devices
Mobile payments startup SumUp, which is based in Berlin, Dublin and London, raised a $20m Series A investment round from Shortcut Ventures, b-to-v Partner, Tengelmann Venturres and Klaus Hommels last year. In addition, the company landed an exclusive partnership with German taxi app, Taxi.de.
Card reader security: Swipe and sign or chip and sign
Advantages: Wide geographic reach in Europe (available in 10 countries), compatible with big range of Android devices
Disadvantages: Visa transactions cannot be used with card reader alone but require customer to enter their phone number into the app and confirm card details via SMS
StreetPay, mPowa, Adyen – other up-and-comers in Europe
These three companies are not the only players racing to acquire customers and offer a card reader compliant with all major credit/debit card companies in Europe. Others hot on their heels are StreetPay, mPowa, Adyen's Shuttle and emu.
In addition to mobile POS, other forms of mobile payments are catching on, such as QR code, contactless near field communication and cloud-based payment systems.
Square's first steps to international expansion
Meanwhile Square, the US company serving as inspiration for most of its European counterparts, closed a Series D round totalling $200m last September. The investment reportedly puts the valuation of the company at a cool $3.25bn. One month later, Square made its first steps towards internationalisation by launching in Canada.
However, Square has yet to unveil how they will broaden their international footprint, which begs the question: will Europe be next?
For related posts, check out:
Rocket Internet’s Payleven scores new million dollar funding for further expansion in Europe
European mobile payments player SumUp expands to France, Belgium and Portugal
Exclusive: myTaxi to launch smartphone “dongle” to rival SumUp, Payleven, Square