4. April 2012–
Berlin incubator Rocket Internet is rumoured to be working on a replica of US mobile payment startup Square - with a working title Zenpay.
News website Deutsche Startups this morning reported the news from an unnamed source. The target release date isn't known but the new company is said to have global aspirations, with Rocket in the process of registering necessary domain names around the world.
Rocket will need to move fast to get the jump on Square in new markets - Square's latest press release says that while it is currently focused on US growth, it plans to offer the product/service in international markets in 2012.
There will be other challenges. As Silicon Allee points out, while Rocket has plenty of experience replicating companies, it hasn't worked with hardware components before - not to mention the logistical nightmare of dealing with country-specific rules for credit card payments.
Square - from broke to Branson
Square, co-founded by Twitter creator Jack Dorsey and engineer Jim McKelvey in 2009, is based out of San Francisco and offers a free credit card reader that plugs into an Android, iPhone or iPad. The idea is that individuals and businesses will now be able to process payments anywhere, anytime i.e. you'll never lose a sale again.
Since product release in 2010, Square has spread to over one million small businesses and individuals and, according to Fast Company, now moves about US$3 billion in annualised payments.
Square's earnings come from a per transaction charge - a business model with enough allure for Sir Richard Branson to step in as an investor in November 2011. Also that year, Square closed a $100m series C financing round led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers.
It's early days - and Rocket Internet could not be reached immediately for comment - but it seems like we could be heading for a DropGifts/Wrapp style showdown, with two companies vying for reach into new markets. TechCrunch points out there might be another contender, mPowa, in the UK. Will there be room for two or three?
Image credit: flickr user david_shankbone