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Future Europe features a podcast episode from each of the EU’s 28 Member States. Each episode tells the story of a project that illuminates the way Europeans will live in the future. All the stories are told through the voices of people involved in the projects.
Get paid, sell smarter and grow
In his central Stockholm office, Johan Bendz, chief strategy officer at iZettle, is thinking back over the short but dynamic history of this young and vibrant Swedish tech company, which is revolutionizing electronic payments infrastructure.
“In 2010, we developed a product, a card reader that was plugged into your phone or your tablet and made it very easy to take card payments,” he tells Future Europe. “Since then we’ve developed our product offering to include much more. Nowadays we call ourselves a commerce platform and we offer services to our customers to get paid, to sell smarter and grow.”
Since joining the company in 2011, Johan has been at the forefront of iZettle’s meteoric rise, with the Financial Times recently dubbing it one of the fastest growing organizations in Europe. This is largely due to their approach in empowering small business to take on their bigger, more established rivals - or “levelling the playing field,” as he puts it.
Chief Product Officer Leo Nelson agrees: “We try to help small businesses succeed. In addition to traditional card payments, we now also offer services like point of sale, to manage in-store sales, your inventory…We also offer invoicing services, e-commerce… It’s really a portfolio to run your business and sell smarter!”
Cash-free innovation in electronic payments infrastructure
Enabling even the smallest merchants to accept card payments was a significant step forward in an increasingly cash-free society such as Sweden. Jérémie Hoffsaes, the European Investment Bank’s representative in Stockholm, noticed iZettle soon after he came to live in the city.
“When I moved here and I went around the corner to buy lunch, I saw this little box for taking the credit card, and I thought it was a fantastic innovation, so why not get in touch with the company? They were expanding so fast throughout Europe, why not work with the bank of the EU?”
A major milestone
Hoffsaes’s idea was well received and under his supervision, a deal was hammered out in which the EIB signed to lend €30 Million to iZettle to fund research and development—a move which Johan Bendz describes as, “a major milestone” for the company.
iZettle’s research and development programme is aimed at four key areas:
- development of next generation payments infrastructure,
- insights and actions through machine learning and artificial intelligence
- digitalisation of commercial processes
- scaling of legislative and compliance systems.
iZettle believes that its pioneering research will be a boost for small businesses and for the economy in Sweden and beyond.
“Payments in both the physical world and online [are] changing very quickly”, says Chief Product Officer Leo Nelson. “New technologies are coming to market that opens up the opportunity to both reduce the cost of setting up and also to improve to improve the payment experience for the end consumer. It’s another way of making sure that our merchants never miss a sale.