iZettle goes to Android, lays out a challenge to Square and its rivals

Big news from European payments startup iZettle today, as it announces the official launch of its Android (s GOOG). The company, which provides a Square-like dongle that allows iOS (s AAPL) users to accept credit card payments, had been trialling a Google-friendly version already. But as of today, a version that’s compatible with the Samsung Galaxy SII, SIII and Galaxy Note is out in Sweden, where iZettle is based.

Once again the company is relying on its partnership with local giant Telia, with the Swedish telco making the dongle available in its shops throughout the country. No word yet on when the Android version might hit other territories or when it might work with non-Samsung devices, but CEO Jacob de Geer suggests that both developments are on the way.

Nor does there seem to have been any movement in the company’s dispute with Visa Europe, after the card syndicate last month pulled support for iZettle in Denmark, Norway and Finland.

This is a significant step not just because it makes iZettle more broadly available, but because it demonstrates why it’s unfair to dismiss the business as little more than a clone of Square. The Silicon Valley darling has certainly developed some innovative technologies and paved the way for a lot of other businesses, and added Android support earlier this year. But it has shied away from the more complicated — and more technically demanding — international markets. Yes, it may have a lot of cash in the bank, but iZettle raised its own significant round of $31 million to expand. Yes, it may have done a lot of groundbreaking stuff with its card-free CardCase tab feature, but it’s limited to a single (albeit large) market.

It’s not just iZettle which is challenging Square here, either: the Samwer brothers are developing their own version, Payleven, and British outfit mPowa is also taking a crack at the same idea.

Even though Square’s recent deal with Starbucks may smooth the way for international rollout, each day that it waits one of its rivals inches forward a little.