The Stars and Stripes: Rocket’s Paymill Launches

By David Knight |

It was not perhaps the first thing that might come to mind when you think of a Rocket Internet launch – a crowd of developers and hipsters hanging round betahaus sipping Club Mate and beer, while an enthusiastic founding team cast a light on the technical corners of their product. But there was Dr. Johannes Bruder, managing director at the Samwer brothers’ investment vehicle, delivering a speech and looking perfectly at home as he supported this latest Rocket venture.

And in a not-particularly-shocking development, the project in question, Paymill, is closely related to – “inspired by”, perhaps – a US startup, in this case payments solution Stripe. But at Friday’s launch party, the folk involved were keen to point out the differences to such a product in Europe, with Johannes declaring that he was excited about Paymill as it “solves a very specific problem.”

Billing itself as the fastest way to accept credit card payments online, Munich-based Paymill is a payment processing API marketed directly to developers. It offers a simple RESTful platform to allow payment integration without the hassle of handling credit card transactions.

The company’s websites boasts of an uncomplicated registration process which sees a live connection possible within 48hours, rather than the weeks needed to deal with banks.

Processing Payments

Online shops which have already started using Paymill include,, and Currently the service is only available in German, but there are plans to translate it into other major European languages such as English and French. In addition, it can already process payments from every country in the European Union – even those, such as Denmark and the UK, which don’t use the euro currency.

Dr. Bruder insisted that Rocket’s increasing emphasis on payments – Paymill joins BillPay and PayLeven in the company’s stable – doesn’t mean a move away from its traditional eCommerce focus, but rather a reaction to a clear need in Germany. He said: “Personally I think it could establish itself as the provider of solutions for hackers… That is something that I would really love to see.”

Try as they might to focus attention elsewhere, however, the conversation will inveitably turn back to cloning. Stripe was recently valued at half a billion dollars despite only being available in the US – perfect fodder for a Rocket startup. Paymill CEO Mark Henkel, however, was at pains to point out the differences between payments in the US and in Europe.

Know Your Customer

He said: “We try to do it in the same way (as Stripe), but there are least three different things. In the US… you just need your social security number then you can get started with everything. In Germany and in the whole European market, you have a know your customer process, a KYC process, which is more complex.”

In the US, the credit market is huge – people use their plastic for a wide variety of payments, such as paying their golf club membership gees. “That is typical (in the US),” Finkel added, “but it is not typical in Germany. The market is completely different, so we have a different market approach.”

For some, the launch of Paymill may simply be yet more proof of Rocket’s idea pilfering. But if it can simplify the unquestionably complicated payments process in Europe for people like hackers and developers – and the style and venue of the launch were not chosen at random – then that may not matter so much after all.