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.
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, Care.com, 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.