Rocket Internet‘s take on Square, Payleven, has today announced that it has landed a “high single digit USD million funding” round from a number of investors as it seeks to gives itself a dominant cushion in the European market before Jack Dorsey’s US payment giant hops over the pond.

The new cash “largely” comes from one new backer, but Payleven isn’t playing along and revealing that new investors name just yet. The fresh injection of cash comes some five month after a number of European powerhouses — Russia’s ru-Net, Rocket Internet, New Enterprise Associates and Holtzbrinck Ventures — put a “double digital” round into the startup — which isn’t fond of sharing the exact price of its backers’ investments — and it is likely to see the firm continue its expansion across Europe, and beyond.

Indeed, for all of the success of Square and its partnership with Starbucks, the US firm is yet to step outside of North America, and that leaves a lot of opportunities for others.

Competing with Swedish payment firm iZettle, Payleven grabbed a key advantage point last October when it introduced a chip & PIN solution in advanced of its rival. Indeed, that move was the first chip & PIN solution for Europe, though there are some key differences.

Card-based transactions are not the same in Europe as merchants’ readers tap into the chip embedded inside them, while a four letter-long PIN number is required to authenticate and authorize a transaction. That makes the Square solution, for one, inoperable there. Payleven’s take is to have its device — which plugs into a smartphone — ‘talk’ to the merchant’s smartphone/tablet via Bluetooth.

Square has said it is aiming to launch internationally this, and Europe is an obvious port of call, as well as countries like Japan which has a mature digital payments eco-system. It will be interesting to see how the firm overcomes the technology differences in these markets — NFC is the near de facto standard in Japan, for a further example of the issues it will need to embrace.

Payleven is currently available in Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, the UK and Poland, while an expansion outside of Europe has seen it go live in Brazil. The company makes its money by taking 2.75 percent of transactions, it says all card payments are accepted for transactions of 1 EUR or above.

The full release is below for your perusal.

payleven starts the new year with high single digit USD million funding
Berlin/London 21th Jan, 2013 – At the end of 2012, payleven, Europe’s mobile payment pioneer, secured additional funding to continue its strong growth in Europe and South America.

The high single digit USD million amount comes largely from a new investor who joins the existing group consisting of New Enterprise Associates, Holtzbrinck Ventures, ru-Net and Rocket Internet. The name of the investor remains undisclosed. The additional funding comes after an initial double digit investment last summer. payleven turns a smartphone or tablet into a card terminal, enabling small businesses and mobile service providers to accept card payments everywhere – without any fixed costs or a complicated signup process.

Co-Founder and CMO Konstantin Wolff: “We are thrilled to see our investor base grow, which reflects the excitement for the first Chip & PIN mobile point of sale (mPOS) in Continental Europe. We want to remain innovative, develop our product and accelerate the growth of our merchant base. The close partnership we have with our investors is key to achieve this.”

In Europe, Visa only allows mPOS payments with Chip & PIN authorization. With the introduction of its Chip & PIN solution, payleven is the first company in Continental Europe to fulfill the high security standards required for a fully functional mPOS acceptance device. payleven has been working closely with Visa to ensure the right standards for its mPOS solution.

payleven’s Chip & PIN solution works through a compact, secure device that links to a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth. The PIN is entered on a keypad on the device. With Chip & PIN, transactions are as secure as with a traditional card terminal and therefore merchants are protected to the highest standards.

payleven is tailored to the needs of small and independent businesses with fair and transparent terms and conditions. Billing is solely transaction based – there is no minimum turnover or fixed fee. Transaction costs are as low as 2.75% of the transaction value. All card payments can be accepted starting from EUR 1.

payleven, Europe’s mobile payments pioneer, is a start-up with its headquarters in Berlin and London and was founded in March 2012. payleven is founded by a group of young entrepreneurs who want to do things differently from the way big businesses operate. Our team members come from the payments and financial services industry (including large corporations like American Express, MasterCard, Travelex and Visa as well as small payment startups) and also from the software and technology sectors.

The company is under the leadership of CoFounders Rafael Otero, Alston Zecha, Dr. Alexander Zumdieck as well as Konstantin Wolff and currently employs around 70 employees. payleven is already available in Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Great Britain, Poland and Brazil. Further press material and information can be downloaded at www.payleven.com

Headline image via Flickr