9 Comments

Summary:

German clone factory Rocket Internet, the incubator run by the controversy-courting Samwer brothers, has reportedly chosen its next target: white hot payment service Square.

square1-e1294690220345

German clone factory Rocket Internet, the incubator run by the controversy-courting Samwer brothers, has reportedly chosen its next target: Square.

According to Deutsche Startups, the Samwers are working on launching a new service called Zenpay which will be a copy of the hot Silicon Valley payment service.

According to information from the German-startups.de Rocket clone is named Zenpay, of which there are yet to see anything yet. Worldwide, the incubator is currently registered but the corresponding domains of the Square copy.

Details are scant, but senior names at Rocket Internet have registered a number of domains, including Zenpay.de, Zenpay.fr, Zenpay.it and more. In some cases the domains were bought over a year ago, but there appears to have been a recent flurry of activity.

They do not appear to own the .com or .co.uk versions, however, though Rocket companies often operate under different names in different territories.

There’s also a Facebook page registered in January that may or may not be linked to the business.

Copying Square is perhaps a natural step: the company has made a big noise in America, and gathered more than $150 million in funding — yet has shown little to no interest in expanding across the Atlantic.

Technically, it’s highly unlikely that Zenpay would be a straight clone of Square, however: European payment cards nearly all use an embedded chip for authentication, rather than the simple swipe that is at the heart of Square’s system (though you can still use the magnetic stripe if needs be.) If Zenpay copies that approach they may find themselves unable to gain the sort of regulatory approval required to operate a financial service across the EU.

And let’s not forget that Europe already has a Square competitor in the form of iZettle, a heavily-funded Swedish startup that has started rolling out across the Nordic region, with the U.K. as its next target.

Rocket’s ambitions are broad: in the last couple of years they have cloned almost every significant commerce startup, including Airbnb, Fab and Wrapp. It’s also run copies of eBay, Facebook, Groupon and more recently Amazon.

But it will be interesting to see what happens, because this play may not be as easy a leap for Rocket to make as its pure play online services.

You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. Reblogged this on BULLETFAME.

  2. Thomas Zangerl Wednesday, April 4, 2012

    It’s a bit deplorable that the Rocket Internet vampires came to be the signboard of the German startup scene, especially as there are (few) really innovative companies over here as well.

    However, one must admit that the German and continental European culture is just so risk-adverse that probably this is the only way to establish Web-companies on the continent at all – our culture and its views on risk and failure can just not be changed this fast. Of course, this does not excuse the 1:1 rip-offs like pinspire.de which really cross the line to outrageousness.

    1. Thomas, I’m also European but do not agree about the risk-averse entrepreneurial culture you’re describing. If that were the case, there would not be any of the big, legendary European companies, such as IKEA (Ingvar Kamprad), Porsche (Ferdinand Porsche), Zara (Amancio Ortega and Rosalía Mera). Those were all the product of a family entrepreneur, or a few friends partnering together.

      Let’s put a few things in perspective here. A rip-off is and should be deplorable if it is copying 1:1 all ideas, look and feel of another company’s product/service. An interpretation of a successful model, which exists in a different market but is not present in the so-called rip-off company’s market(s), is just pure business. It’s oftentimes more important how you execute, not how great an idea you’ve come up. If Square cannot figure out how to deal with the chip-and-PIN quandary across Europe, then why shouldn’t another company (with better expertise in that area) step in? I love using Square, but am tired of not being able to use it in interactions with my friends who live in the UK, France, Germany, etc. So it’s Square’s conscious decision to refuse its first mover’s choice in Europe, and Rocket should be able to step in and execute in that space.

      After all, didn’t Steve Jobs himself say that hackers are pirates, and pirates should not be afraid to steal ideas? Xerox came up with the GUI and mouse ideas, but had very botched implementations. Steve Jobs saw the potential of those ideas and turned them into elegant solutions, appealing to the consumer market. Is Mac a 1:1 rip-off of the Xerox prototype? I doubt it.

      I actually dare take the opposite stance on this. Let there be more companies like Rocket. Then the so-called Silicon Valley wonder boys will be forced to get out of their cozy, VC-backed digs in San Fran, and realize that the world is a bit bigger than the Bay Area. There are so many innovative products that gain traction in San Fran, but then get stuck in the West Coast (marginally creeping into the East Coast), without any clear sense of allowing the rest of the world to reap the benefits of their disruptive technology, as well. Perhaps the threat of a clone in Europe would make them re-think their definition of the world.

      1. You must be working for Rocket. I am not seeing more than cheap plastic imitations. It is exactely not what you are saying, getting inspiration and producing something better. In fact, in their latest Fab clone, Rocket even lifted the source code line-by-line as recently was revealed. And yes, Germans are tremendously risk averse. If you have a chance, take a trip to the Bay Area, Austin, Boston or any number of US tech markets and see for yourself.

  3. Thomas, I’m also European but do not agree about the risk-averse entrepreneurial culture you’re describing. If that were the case, there would not be any of the big, legendary European companies, such as IKEA (Ingvar Kamprad), Porsche (Ferdinand Porsche), Zara (Amancio Ortega and Rosalía Mera). Those were all the product of a family entrepreneur, or a few friends partnering together.

    Let’s put a few things in perspective here. A rip-off is and should be deplorable if it is copying 1:1 all ideas, look and feel of another company’s product/service. An interpretation of a successful model, which exists in a different market but is not present in the so-called rip-off company’s market(s), is just pure business. It’s oftentimes more important how you execute, not how great an idea you’ve come up. If Square cannot figure out how to deal with the chip-and-PIN quandary across Europe, then why shouldn’t another company (with better expertise in that area) step in? I love using Square, but am tired of not being able to use it in interactions with my friends who live in the UK, France, Germany, etc. So it’s Square’s conscious decision to refuse its first mover’s choice in Europe, and Rocket should be able to step in and execute in that space.

    After all, didn’t Steve Jobs himself say that hackers are pirates, and pirates should not be afraid to steal ideas? Xerox came up with the GUI and mouse ideas, but had very botched implementations. Steve Jobs saw the potential of those ideas and turned them into elegant solutions, appealing to the consumer market. Is Mac a 1:1 rip-off of the Xerox prototype? I doubt it.

    I actually dare take the opposite stance on this. Let there be more companies like Rocket. Then the so-called Silicon Valley wonder boys will be forced to get out of their cozy, VC-backed digs in San Fran, and realize that the world is a bit bigger than the Bay Area. There are so many innovative products that gain traction in San Fran, but then get stuck in the West Coast (marginally creeping into the East Coast), without any clear sense of allowing the rest of the world to reap the benefits of their disruptive technology, as well. Perhaps the threat of a clone in Europe would make them re-think their definition of the world.

    1. A 1:1 copy. Funny!

      1. Exactly!

  4. the uneducatedmarketer Wednesday, April 4, 2012

    I guess we are all stuck with the thinking that we should lean towards “inventor’s pride”, I say innovation always comes after every idea, I don’t think Rocket is really cloning, what they are doing is challenging the benchmark by finding ways to make it work better. Square should have thought about this all along, and I bet they’ve prepared tricks to keep their customers. Well another company in the UK did what Rocket is about to do… mPowa (www.mpowa.com), and just by reading through what they can offer consumers, I can already say they are better. Soon something will challenge mPowa and Zenpay, and like any other companies, I know they will be ready to innovate and make their services even better.

  5. The way I see it, the fact that Square and other contenders in the mobile payment scene have yet to enter the European market is turning into a highly favorable circumstance both for other mobile payment companies AND retailers in Europe (who have been looking forward to Square’s launching in the continent). Favorable because for one thing Square and other similar companies’ innovation is not even going to be viable in European countries such as Germany, UK, France. At least we know that these new up-and-comers have tailored their systems and technology to fit the needs of European businesses.

    By the by, aside from the Samwer brothers, another company getting ready to launch in UK and some other countries in Europe is mPowa. It may resemble Square in some ways but most likely better in a whole lot more. For instance, the .25% transaction fee per card transaction is a key difference and not bad at all! Interested? Just check the site http://www.mpowa.com

Comments have been disabled for this post