Laura Arvela (left) paid for her SUP lesson with a card using the iZettle card reader on Friday. According to the business owner Maria Mikkonen, iZettle is well-suited to seasonal work as there are no fixed costs.Stand-up paddling has been this summer's hit outdoors pastime. You can now put your skills to the test on a SUP board even if you forgot to bring any cash with you as card payments are also accepted – at least at the Twenty Knots hire place.

Maria Mikkonen, an entrepreneur whose services include SUP board hire, is a typical client of the Swedish company iZettle, specialising in app and card readers that allow small businesses to accept card payments with tablets or smartphones.

Launched in Finland just over a year ago, the iZettle service had gained a customer base close to a five-digit figure by the beginning of the summer. Tommi Huovinen, the head of the company's Finnish branch, declined to reveal the exact figure.

Besides the Nordic countries, the company also operates in Brazil and Mexico.

Huovinen says that Mikkonen fits the company's target group nicely.

"The service is really handy for a seasonal business as there are no fixed costs. The system is well-suited to a mobile business," Mikkonen explains.

According to Huovinen, particularly owners of hair-dressing businesses have found the service in large numbers. At the moment, iZettle's biggest competitors in Finland are cash payments and conventional invoices.

He stresses that for example for plumbers mobile payments may help reduce credit risks.

Established in 2011, the Swedish company has raised more than 85 million euros worth of funding from investors.

The investors include the main credit card companies American Express and Mastercard, along with the Spanish bank Banco Santander. In Finland, iZettle has had collaboration talks with the Nordea bank.

Best known start-up

In the United States, Square, a company specialised in card payment services, has become one of the best known start-ups, with a market value of billions of dollars.

Last week, the online sales giant Amazon introduced a competitor to Square, a card reader with a retail price of mere 10 dollars (around 7.50 euros).

iZettle has not set its sights on the American market as it relies on chip technology used in Europe.

Head of the Finnish branch of the payment processor Nets Oy, former Luottokunta, Heikki Kapanen, is keeping tabs on the performance of companies such as iZettle with great interest as they open up new possibilities for card payment services.

Nets is also planning to launch its own mobile payment device in Finland.

"The development is going in the same direction but the uses are different. I understand that for a business with only a few transactions a day, a mobile card reader is the most flexible means of accepting card payments. But these systems have their limitations if the number of transactions is high," says Kapanen.

In the future, a consumer may be able to take care of all payments with their smartphone.

A trip to a shop will become more like online shopping, if the vision of the retail sector comes true.

Juha Roppola – HS
Niina Woolley – HT
Image: Petri Krook | HS