Since launching late last year payment service iZettle, Europe’s answer to Square, has only been available in its native Sweden. Now it is launching across the rest of the Nordic region — and putting the pieces in place to expand into Britain later this year.
As of tomorrow, customers Denmark, Finland and Norway will officially be able to get their hands on the company’s iPhone and iPad card-reader, which enables them to take card payments using an iOS device instead of using a cash register.
CEO Jacob de Geer told me that iZettle planned on distributing between 15,000 and 20,000 free dongles over the next two weeks, mainly to those merchants — large and small — that have already expressed interest in using the system. That will roughly double the size of the rollout since the service came out of beta last November.
“We’ve been pretty happy with how the system works and now we’re ready to expand,” he said. “We’ve been piloting in these markets for some time, and we’ve had fantastic virality. Since the Nordic markets are nearby to us, the word’s really spread.”
Like Square’s basic service, which de Geer admits was the direct inspiration for iZettle’s own technology, has garnered buzz for letting anyone who signs up plug a card into their device and take payments. Like Square too, it takes a 2.75 percent cut of all transactions in exchange for providing its service. Unlike Square, however, iZettle has to cope with the more demanding technology of chip-based credit cards and the complicated regulatory system across Europe’s patchwork of countries.
But now that the company has gone beyond its own borders for the first time, it looks set to keep growing: in addition to the Nordic expansion, the company has also just hired a managing director for the U.K. ahead of a planned launch there later this year.
Stewart Roberts, currently director of global innovation at Barclaycard Group, will start in May with a remit to build out provision and partnerships. That could prove a significant hire for the Stockholm-based business, which received $15 million in funding from Index Ventures and Creandum last year with an eye to becoming a significant European business.
De Geer told me that he expected to find that merchants in each country would adopt the iZettle in different ways, especially since it could be seen as a lower-cost alternative to traditional Chip-and-PIN readers used by many small businesses.
“We’ll see totally different usage patterns,” he said. “The cost of a reader without the PIN pad is much lower, which makes it appealing for smaller merchants like chiropractors, carpenters, or anyone still bound to cash, checks or invoices.”
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