Following the financing round of €11.2 million in autumn 2018 and this year’s EU Horizon 2020 funding of €1.9 million, the European mobile payment solution Bluecode is now securing a further investment of €12 million. The venture capitalists in the current financing round are the same industry-related family offices from Europe that were responsible for the funding in 2018. “We would like to thank our investors for their great trust and the support we have received from large parts of the banking and retail world across Europe.
Since the launch of Apple Pay and Google Pay, the interest in our mobile payment solution has grown dramatically. For many stakeholders in the banking and retail industry, it is now obvious how non-European third-party providers are jeopardizing their business model. We want to use the additional funds to ensure that our banking and retail partners benefit even faster from our technology and that they are able to offer their end customers an alternative mobile payment solution on the basis of European rules,” says Christian Pirkner, CEO of Blue Code International AG.
Focus on bank and retailer integration, value-added services and international expansion
Bluecode will use the majority of the growth capital for three core areas: “Firstly, we are creating the possibility for European banks to join the Bluecode network in only a few weeks. With the help of the PSD2 interfaces, we enable the European banking industry to integrate Bluecode as a mobile payment solution into their banking apps and the core banking system, without any great technical effort,” explains Pirkner. “Secondly, for the expansion of our value-added services platform, comparable to the value-added apps offered by Asian mobile payment solutions. In order to keep the customer journey in the banking app, it will be essential to enable the booking of additional offers such as public transport tickets, parking spaces, cultural events, e-scooters, hotels, rental cars and more.
And thirdly, we will use it for the cross-border expansion of Bluecode through partnerships with leading mobile payment solutions in Europe and beyond. Each system partnership with another payment solution based on optical scanning expands the acceptance network of retailers, restaurants and hotels for both parties. We will play an active role in creating a dense optical payment network for the benefit of all involved parties,” says Christian Pirkner. Another part of the funding is earmarked for expansion projects in new markets outside Europe.
The clock is ticking for European alternatives to Apple Pay, Google Pay & Co.
Bluecode’s efforts are driven by Europe’s increasing dependence on non-European payment services, as the current launch of Apple Pay at several banks in Germany and Austria shows. The European Central Bank (ECB) and the Central Bank of the Federal Republic of Germany (Deutsche Bundesbank), to name a few, repeatedly call for a European alternative for mobile payment transactions for more than 500 million inhabitants. “Our investors share our conviction that Europe’s citizens, banks and retailers urgently need an alternative solution for value-added mobile payment ‘made in Europe’.
Bluecode wants to fill this gap together with its banking partners. Since the launch of PSD2 on 14 September 2019, it has become even easier for non-European third-party providers to occupy the banks’ customer interface for mobile payments. Banks must not jeopardize this customer journey because of a short-term hype! Once the mobile customer journey is lost to foreign providers, the long-term earnings of the banks and the entire value chain of European companies are at risk,” warns Pirkner.
Banks launch new co-branded Bluecode apps for iOS and Android
Bluecode therefore supports banks and retail groups to implement their own mobile payment solutions for iPhones and Android smartphones in order to retain data sovereignty over sensitive customer information and to participate again in the creation of value by mobile payment transactions. Recently, the first co-branded apps ‘Raiffeisen Bluecode’ and ‘BKS Bluecode’, which were implemented jointly with banks, were launched – with further Austrian and German banks to follow. At the POS, the user has the blue barcode scanned at the cash register and the amount is debited directly from the user’s current account at the bank. Neither the customer’s name nor the account numbers ever leave the data centre of the participating banks.