For all the tech-savvy startups emerging from cities all over Europe, the continent still lags behind the US when it comes to using social networks and mobile technology in business. But Swedish social payment company iZettle is on a mission to change this, setting the wheels into motion for a Europe-wide expansion, including Germany.
iZettle’s iPhone and iPad apps and mini chip-card reader lets small businesses take secure card payments anytime, anywhere. Launched in 2011, iZettle is now available across Scandinavia and the UK. I caught up with founder and CEO Jacob Greer to get an insight into the nifty payment service…
Hi Jacob, can you give us a bit of background on iZettle?
iZettle is a social payments company. We’re working to create services for person-to-person and business-to-consumer commerce that are convenient and secure, simple to set up and use, and make it easy for users to share sales and purchases with friends.
Our first service includes a free app for iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch and a mini chip-card reader that lets anyone take payments anytime, anywhere. iZettle is designed with two audiences in mind – the first being small businesses and in-home service providers, such as housekeepers, plumbers, gardeners, carpenters or repair people.
The second is individuals, especially young people, who are rapidly abandoning cash, and would prefer to settle-up restaurant bills or casual wagers between friends, or yard-sale purchases by neighbours, without having to run to the ATM. iZettle is currently available in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and in closed Beta in the UK ( going for commercial launch this autumn). During 2012, the service will expand further across Europe, including Germany.
What inspired you to start iZettle?
My wife imports reading and sunglasses and sells them at street fairs and markets. She couldn’t use the Square device from the US to take credit cards due to Europe and Sweden’s different payment systems and more stringent security standards, so I decided to create iZettle!
Who are the founders and how did you find each other?
Alongside myself there’s my cofounder and CFO Magnus Nilsson (left). We were introduced by mutual friends at a dinner party. Both of us had just decided not to work with more start-ups, but the opportunity addressed by my wife was just far too exciting not to investigate. We both had a lot of experience with web-related services, business development and start-ups so it was a good fit!
What makes you different from everyone else?
We are often compared to Square in the media. The differences lie in fundamental technology and security standards. Square is for mag-stripe market and iZettle is for chip card market, which includes Europe, Asia and some parts of North and South America. Also, Europe introduced a chip card standard – EMV (Europay, MasterCard and VISA) – years ago to limit the risk of fraud and skimming. iZettle is EMV compliant. Europe also has other challenges because there are more than 20 different countries and languages in Europe, which can make go-to-market strategies slightly more complex.
What’s your business model? And how big is the market potential?
iZettle’s business model is 100 per cent transaction based. We take a cut of the transaction fee, which is 2.75% for VISA, MasterCard and Diners (AmEx is slightly higher with 2.95% in the UK and 3.75% in the Nordics) . There’s a big market potential and all chip card markets are of interest to us. In Europe there are 20million companies that currently only accept cash, checks or invoices and approximately 500 million people have payment cards – 1.45 cards per person.
Who is financing you?
In November 2011, iZettle received €8.2 million in Series A funding led by Index Ventures with co-investor Creandum and further investment from Charles Dunstone, CEO and Co-founder of The Carphone Warehouse. In June 2012, iZettle completed a €25 million Series B round of funding led by Greylock Partners and Northzone. MasterCard, SEB Private Equity and Series A investors Index Ventures and Creandum are also participating in the round.
Is there something you still need?
We are recruiting frequently! Please check our site for open positions.
Who would you like to have lunch with and what would you talk about?
Any advice for fellow startups?
Nothing is impossible and never take no for an answer.
Where will you be in a year’s time?
The interest in iZettle is amazing. And we’re working on adding new markets as fast as we can. That’s our main focus. In a years time we have launched in several new markets and increased the POS-markets significantly in all of them.