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.
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