By Kurt Wagner, reporter
FORTUNE -- Indiegogo is out to prove that good ideas transcend borders. The crowdfunding platform has expanded globally in recent months, incorporating new languages, currencies, and localized homepages in an attempt to encourage foreign investors. In December, Indiegogo enabled campaigns to raise money in three new currencies, including Euros, Pounds and Canadian Dollars. In January, the Kickstarter rival started offering country-specific homepages for the U.K., Germany, France and Canada, and even offers the option to build your campaign in French or German (campaigns were previously English-only).
These international additions are in line with Indiegogo's mission statement to empower the world, says co-founder Danae Ringelmann, and came roughly one month after rival Kickstarter began featuring U.K.-based campaigns beginning in late October. Since adding these new features, Indiegogo has seen a 20% increase in international activity, which Ringelmann says includes both campaigns and international contributions. It's difficult to determine exactly how substantial this increase is -- international campaign and contribution totals are unavailable meaning a 20% increase is rather ambiguous -- but it appears as if the race for global crowdfunding dominance is getting hotter.
In terms of building a platform tailored to a non-U.S. audience, Indiegogo has somewhat of a leg up on the competition. On Monday, Indiegogo announced the next phase of its international plan: a partnership with global payments company Adyen, which processed more than $10 billion in payments in 2012. The partnership is intriguing because Adyen provides Indiegogo with a much stronger understanding of what payment methods are most common across different countries and cultures. In Germany, for example, credit cards accounted for only 17% of all transactions in 2011, according to a study by the European Central Bank. (For comparison, 56% of transactions in the U.K. were completed using credit cards that same year.) In the Netherlands last year, nearly $12 billion in consumer transactions occurred using a payment system known as iDEAL (think a Dutch version of PayPal).
The takeaway: Each country provides crowdfunding platforms like Indiegogo with a unique challenge. How can you make the process of donating to a campaign as simple as possible? Offering options outside of basic credit card payments can drastically increase donations and investments, says Peter Caparso, President of Adyen North America. "By letting Adyen take care of [payments]," he added, "it lets Indiegogo focus on their core business, which is having people fund great projects." Adyen supports 187 currencies and 218 local payment methods worldwide, meaning Indiegogo may soon be able to provide international users with more convenient funding options in order to boost donations.
Indiegogo's international move appears to be the most expansive of any crowdfunding platform to date. On Kickstarter, anyone internationally can donate to a campaign, but payments are only accepted via credit card, according to a spokesperson. That didn't appear to stop Kickstarter from having international success during its first month in the U.K. last November; more than 400 U.K.-based campaigns raised an equivalent of more than $3 million. But it may be a different story once internationally based campaigns crop up from countries -- like Germany -- where possible investors are less reliant on credit cards.
Both Indiegogo and Kickstarter said they plan to continue international expansion for crowdfunding, though neither would specify any particularly countries or regions. Caparso says that Adyen has been in contact with other crowdfunding platforms in addition to Indiegogo, but also withheld details. While all of the international focus has so far been on Europe and Canada, Caparso expects South America to be next on the list. "The region's just doing really well," he says. "While we were in recession, Brazil was booming." With the industry's top players already pushing hard to get foreign investors involved, we may not have to wait long to find out.
Everyone from Apple to Visa is looking to shape the way we spend money in the digital age. As PayPal rolls out pieces of its new platform, it's looking like a strong contender for a broad new standard.
by Kevin Kelleher, contributor
FORTUNE -- As long as the Internet has been a venue for commerce, some companies have dreamed of making electronic cash as seamless and intuitive to use as possible: no MOREMar 21, 2012 10:05 AM ET
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