When iZettle launched in 2010, it had a simple mission according to CEO and Co-Founder Jacob de Geer: make it possible for small businesses to accept cards. But after seven years in the game, de Geer said he realizes that the opportunities are much, much bigger.
“Over time we realized the needs for small businesses are for all of the financial services normally only available for the big companies. We realized we wanted to offer a one-stop shop commerce platform for small businesses — and began building out our platform to become that for those small merchants.”
Marking their latest milestone on becoming that one-stop shop, today iZettle is announcing news that going forward it will enable users across Europe to register local mobile payments methods and send invoices through its point-of-sale app.
The new — and free — service will allow businesses to enable British Pay by Bank app, Swedish Swish, Norwegian Vipps and MobilePay in Denmark, Finland and Norway. The new invoicing service allows small business owners to send invoices back and forth by a few clicks — hopefully with the end result of getting paid faster (and electronically).
The Importance of Building for Local Needs
It can be easy to overlook the power of local mobile payments, de Geer noted, but in many European markets, that is akin to overlooking a substantial business opportunity.
“In Sweden, we have ... Swish that is currently used by 5.5 million Swedes. There are only nine million people in this country.”
Vipps is Swish’s Norwegian equivalent and has a local adoption rate above 50 percent; MobilePay is installed on nine out of 10 smartphones in Denmark — and is also used in Finland and Norway.
“It is becoming a pretty big deal for merchants to accept these payments in an easy way,” de Geer noted, as they are increasingly driving a very important share of commerce in their home markets.
But, unlike the U.S., which is a unified market, incorporating local payments methods is challenging because “things are very, very local.”
That includes accounting for local language and commerce customs — but also the ever-complicated world of rules and regulations which can vary. Even in the single market E.U. — where there is a general set guiding all financial services — there are plenty of “local flavors to account for.”
“What iZettle can offer is scalable functionality across these markets — and that is not easy to find in a very fragmented payments world where being able to support all the local variation of payments is increasingly important.”
Making Invoices Easier
Invoicing, de Geer noted, is an addition to the service that came up in conversations with their merchants. When asked what they wanted, after the common answer, “help selling more,” was given, the second most common answer was about invoicing.
“It kept coming up as a challenge — and we didn’t know why. It wasn’t very exciting, and we felt like this was a problem we had heard was on the agenda for a solution for a long time.”
On the schedule, perhaps, but for smaller businesses looking for a simple and easy-to-use tool to send invoices back and forth — not actually gotten to yet.
“So, we built invoicing tools that are simple and easy to use from the app. We help out with the more time-consuming part; we make sure to track your money and your money flow and to tell the merchant if funds have been paid to the accounts, and who paid them.”
That, he noted, in the future, can and likely will develop into more sophisticated invoicing tools with more functionality for merchants — but for their target audience of small businesses, what they mostly needed from invoicing was simple transparency.
“This is an important step in delivering on our promise of democratizing commerce and leveling the playing field for small businesses,” he noted.
Which means, de Geer said, after today’s announcement, iZettle is back to pursuing their standard number one goal: growth. Growth in where they operate — and in the spectrum of services they offer to SMB partners.
Going forward, he noted, that expansion of services could include more advanced invoicing options like factoring — or into wholly new areas like offering credit and borrowing capacity to merchants.
“We want to continue to drive the market and continue to drive into new regions. And to develop the services our merchants do need. I think we have only scratched the surface of the things they are looking for.”