Rocket may clone Stripe to beef up payments portfolio

Germany’s notorious clone specialists, the Samwer Brothers, have yet to prove themselves in developing long-term businesses that are outside their traditional strengths in e-commerce. But it’s looking more and more like their Rocket Internet incubator is determined to firm up its foray into one of those other markets, however: payments.

The Samwers already have Billpay, a BillMeLater copy that offers secure online payment facilities, and they also recently cloned Square with PayLeven.

Now reports suggest their next target is to produce a copy of Stripe, one of the hottest payment startups out there. The rumor comes from sources quoted by the German publication Gruenderszene.

Stripe is not a million miles away from Billpay, but its big selling point is simplicity. Whereas Billpay’s offering involves direct debit and instalments, Stripe aims to provide an Amazon Web Services-like experience for developers, with an API that allows for very quick deployment.

Most importantly, Stripe — less than a year old — is apparently already valued at half a billion dollars. This is the kind of number that gets the Samwers’ attention.

Right now Stripe is U.S.-only. As we saw just yesterday with the sale of Betreut to the service it copied,, Rocket specializes in cloning services that have just been too slow to roll out to Europe, south-east Asia, South America or Africa, and offering the same sort of service to those previously denied a look-in (see also the sales of Alando to eBay and CityDeals to Groupon). To my mind, this is where the cloning debate becomes less black-and-white, as a gap in the market is a gap in the market.

Anyhow, there’s more than enough reason to believe the Stripe-clone rumour. It may well be a ploy to sell the clone back to the cloned, but let’s also look and see how the Samwers make the copycat fit in with their existing payments portfolio — and whether the concept translates as well outside the credit-card-centric U.S. as within.