The Estonian mobile payments provider, Fortumo, just announced a partnership with the Ukrainian mobile operator - Kyivstar. The partnership would allow Fortumo to tap into 25 million Kyivstar customers to make payments inside of Kyivstar’s App Club store without using a credit card.
The first game to be published that will be able to use the Fortumo mobile payments is Cut The Rope by Zeptolab with games from Rovio, EA, Halfbrick, Creative Mobile and Lima Sky to follow.
Sitting at $57 million USD in 2013, the Ukrainian digital gaming market is but a drop in the ocean when comparing to the recent Supercell sale. However when you come back to earth, it is still an attractive piece of the pie to target.
No one gets into the online payments industry because it's easy. But Niklas Adalberth founded Stockholm-based Klarna in 2005 together with his fellow students Sebastian Siemiatkowski and Victor Jacobsson. Their idea was to provide a frictionless payment solution that would allow buyers and sellers to interact with each other as safely and simply as possible.
In the meantime, Klarna has grown into a multinational with more than 700 dedicated employees. In December 2011, the company received $155M of financing from DST Global and General Atlantic to fuel its rapid growth and expand to new markets.
We are proud to have Adalberth as a speaker at our Arctic15 conference this October. To give you a little more background before you see him on stage, here's a short interview:
iZettle has announced that they will begin their Nordic launch tomorrow, and will be releasing 5000 devices in Denmark, Norway, and Finland, each, for beta testing. If you haven't seen our previous coverage, iZettle’s iPhone and iPad app lets anyone take credit or debit card payments on the go, with or without iZettle’s chip-card reader.
The company offers a service similar to the US-based competitor, Square, although Square is built for magnetic strip cards and plugs into the headphone jack. The device has already been beta testing in Sweden since November, a month after the company raised €8.2M in venture funding. We've already gotten our hands on the device, and will be releasing a more detailed review later this week.
Flattr, the microtipping service from Sweden, has announced it has closed a 14 million Swedish kronor (€1,6 million) investment from Federico Pirzio-Biroli and Passion Capital. The investment values the company now at 88 million Swedish kronor (€10 million). The service allows content owners to attach (and thus accept) micro donations through a simple Flattr -button on their website. A user can tip as many services online during a single month and the amount the user has allocated to be paid out will be evenly distributed all those who received clicks by that user.
According to the company, the investment was closed actually towards the end of last year, but they were only able to announce it today as the proper paperwork was in place.
Klarna, the Sweden-based European e-commerce payments solution announced today that it has received $155 million in financing. This new round came from DST Global and General Atlantic, and was supported by Sequoia Capita, who invested in the company in 2010. Already today, Klarna handles over $2.5 billion worth of transactions annually for its 14.000 connected merchants in in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Germany and the Netherlands. The company announced it will use this funding to hire more talent and expand to more regions.
Fruugo, the much-debated ambitious Finnish e-commerce startup (see our previous coverage) that has raised tens of millions of euros of funding, filed its 2009 annual report last Friday. The report reveals the company made a loss of 11,040,071 euros (USD ~13.9M) in the financial year 2009. Despite the huge loss, the result was actually a slight improvement from 2008 when the company made a loss of 14.5 million euros. The report also tells that Fruugo produced a turnover of 8236 euros (yes, not a typo; i.e. USD ~10,350) from the sales commissions in 2009. The company launched its web storefront, available to consumers in Finland, Sweden, and the Netherlands (and including merchants from also the UK), in May 2009 several months late from the planned schedule.
Flattr is a new Swedish service enabling easy microtransactions, or social donations, for the whole web. Flattr wants to make it easy for people to share money in addition to content on the web, and thus allow content producers to get income on their work. The service is currently in closed beta, but I got an account to take a closer look.
In practice, every Flattr member needs to pay at least 2 euros per month (you can up to 5/10/20 as well). Then, during each month, you discover content on the web that you really like, be it text, audio, video, or something else, and you want to "flatter" the creator. You then click a small button the content creator has placed on her site. After each month is over, your monthly allowance (e.g., 2 euros) is divided evenly to all of the content creators whose work you have "flattred" during the month. Flattr itself takes 10% cut initially.
Fortumo is an Estonian startup (see our previous coverage) focusing on making it possible for everybody from individuals to home-based businesses to global web entrepreneurs to easily and cheaply collect payments from their customers using mobile payments. The company emphasizes that it should be as easy, quick, and cost-effective to start using mobile payments on your site or in your app as creating a blog or a homepage.
Fortumo has now released a new service called FortuMoPay, designed for selling credits (to be used e.g. on virtual goods) in online games, web applications, and social networks.
For this, PayEx along with existing investors have invested US$2m of venture capital in Accumulate. The money will be used to further develop Accumulate's mobile payments and mobile security business.
20,000 students are expected to be enrolled on the system by the end of this year, with a total of 100,000 students at a number of universities going live over the next six months, beginning with Uppsala University and Linköping University.
The Swedish mobile payment and security solution provider Accumulate has announced (in Swedish) expanding their technology further into physical point-of-sale (POS) payments with mobile. Accumulate is partnering with PayEx, a Swedish-based payment system provider, to allow retail customers pay their purchases with mobile phones.
Accumulate, a Swedish mobile payment and security solution provider, has received an investment from The Sixth Swedish National Pension Fund (The Sixth AP Fund; Sjätte AP-fonden). The Sixth AP fund is the so called Swedish state fund for longterm risk capital, investing in small and medium-sized growth companies. The size of the investment has not been disclosed.
mobileAxept is a Norwegian startup providing a mobile phone payment system, which directly charges an existing credit card or a bank account.
mobileAxept's solution is based on a patented gateway for securing transactions between the customer, merchant, and credit card companies or banks. The merchants can offer customers a way to pay with their mobile phone, either by calling or sending a SMS to specified numer. However, the payment will be processed on the customer's credit or debit card rather than added to phone bill. This way the phone can be used for quick impulse purchases or micropayments without big overhead costs typically associated with mobile payments.
Estonian startup NOW! Innovations, founded in 2003, will reportedly start cooperating with a US startup StreetSmart Technology. StreetSmart Technology will offer its customers an integrated total solution for automatic mobile parking service system.
The service includes automatic managing of parking lots and mobile payment option for the end-users. The parking spaces are being monitored automatically by sensors under the paving. The parking meter will know whether the space has been paid for or not. Should there be any violations, the parking lot manager will be automatically notified. NOW! Innovations provides the platform for the provisioning of mobile digital tickets.
The service is planned to launch on Monday October 20th in the city of Decatur near Atlanta, Georgia. The payment method will be based on automatic voice service instead of SMS. As Arho Anttila, the Managing Director of NOW! Innovations argues, for the average American to use SMS for parking would be "psychologicaly unacceptable and difficult.”
NOW! Innovations has targeted the US (esp. New York and New Jersey) and Latin America (Ecuador and Brazil) for some time, but this new initiative will be the firm's main bridgehead in the US. The company has previously been involved in launching mobile parking payment systems in Belgium, Estonia, and Slovenia. The company also offers mobile ticketing systems for public transport, and different metering and monitoring solutions.
Half of NOW! Innovations is owned by Helmes, the largest software development company in Estonia, that is supporting the firm's strong international growth.
Estonian company Poohtech has launched a service called Cmart (.swf link) in Latvia that enables paying utility bills in 99 local Narvesen kiosks. Poohtech is an Estonian startup focusing on electronic ticketing and payment solutions. Toivo Annus, the former lead engineer of Skype, has reportedly invested in the firm. Poohtech has earlier provided electronic ticketing for in public transportation in Tallinn, Estonia.
The Cmart service enables Latvians to pay their bills at local newsstand chain Narvesen. The barcodes of bills from different service providers (including telecom, security, energy , etc.), are scanned in and paid on the spot.
The value statement Cmart makes is letting people to pay their bills on the go makes their life much easier. Toivo Tänavsuu comments at least in Estonia most of the people pay their bills online (similarly in Finland), and probably in Latvia also, but on the other hand the service could be very valuable for elderly people.
Poohtech is aiming for international markets with Cmart, and mention they would like to hear from potential partners.
Openbit, a Finnish Tampere based provider of on-device payment and DRM solutions for mobile applications, and Tanla Solutions, Indian telecommunications software and services provider have announced today that Tanla buys 85 % of Openbit for $US 15.81M / EUR 10.2M in cash. The valuation is therefore at EUR 12M, 23.5 times Openbit's EBITDA (EUR 0.51M) from the fiscal year 2007.
The remaining 15% is still owned by the management and will be acquired by Tanla in two parts, 5% after the first year and 10% after the second. Openbit has been one of the fastest growing companies in Finland in terms of revenue growth, ranking third in the Deloitte’s Finnish Technology Fast 50 list of 2007.
Seems like a potentially very good match for both companies. Openbit should be able to expand their channels and partners faster in Asia and North America, and Tanla gets extensive foothold in Europe.
Congrats to Openbit for the work well done so far!
See Tanla's press release (PDF) for more information.