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German OTTO Group to Start Online Payment Service Yapital

By Martin Schuppelius

Germany-based Otto Group, one of the world’s largest mail order companies, will launch an online payment services named Yapital. According to Otto, the digital wallet service will enable consumers to make payments across all sales channels. The commercial launch is scheduled for mid-2013.

At present there is little information available but the move looks like Otto is about to create a potential competitor for online payment services such as PayPal, Google Wallet or Amazon Payments. It’s not the first time Otto expands into financial services: big financial services companies like EOS, EOS Payment and Ratepay are part of the Otto Group. Jürgen Schulte-Laggenbeck, CFO of the Otto Group commented: “For the Otto Group, this is a logical continuation of other Group activities in the areas of Financial Services, Multichannel Retail and Service. We are convinced that this young marketplace is large enough for a strong European player.”

Fun fact: The name Yapital actually refers to Yap, a tiny island in the Pacific Ocean known for its stone money (even Milton Friedman wrote a paper on Yap’s monetary system). Having no access to metals, the people on Yap used huge, heavy, carved disks of limestone as money. Because moving the stones was really difficult, the islanders started to transfer the stones abstractly by just changing who owns the stone and thus created the first virtual currency. Digital wallets – the functional descendants of stone money ;)