In founding WePay, Bill Clerico and Rich Aberman have given small companies an easy way to collect money online
The creation of WePay was inspired – as it often happens – by a real life experience of the founders. Rich Aberman faced difficulty when collecting money for a bachelor's party from friends located in various parts of the United States, while troubles came up in collecting funds for Bill Clerico when he was tutoring and doing other odd jobs in college. Their experiences lead them to realise that there was a need on the market and that online payments were worth a closer look.
With a background in investment banking at Jefferies & Company, where he advised technology companies on mergers and acquisitions as well as capital market transactions, in 2008 Bill Clerico decided to found WePay with his friend Aberman. Being new to the business, however, meant that the beginning strategy of WePay had to be changed due to some early troubles receiving traction in the peer-to-peer group payments. After a quick rethink, the pair decided to shift the focus of their company to new users.
“In the past we focused on group payments, but we realised that most groups still like to defer to one administrator to collect payments, and that they’re not a great source of recurring revenue. Businesses, on the other hand, typically transact regularly and also have unique issues that we are well equipped to deal with when collecting money online so it is a good fit,” Clerico, the company CEO, confirms.
“Today we are focused on making it as easy as possible for small businesses to collect money online. We generate revenue from transaction fees and we charge 2.9% + $.30 per credit card transaction and 1.9% + $.30 per bank transaction. We also partner with other platforms and marketplaces to process payments, for which we charge transaction fees. WePay never charges any setup, monthly or hidden fees”.
‘Easy’ is the right word to describe the few steps that a potential user has to follow to use WePay. Visitors to the site provide their name, phone number, email and a password. They can also connect via Facebook, which is even easier. Though users need to connect their bank account to receive their funds, once they have registered they can start collecting money right away. A WePay account can be up, running, and even transacting in less than five minutes.
Besides being easy, WePay is also safe – a further alluring feature, especially when considering that the main deterrent to the use of online payment systems is the fear of fraud.
“We pride ourselves on our advanced fraud and risk mitigation systems"
"We use social data along with traditional tools to analyse our risk of underwriting customers and to protect our customers from fraudsters”.
To keep customers happy and expand WePay in the future, the company still faces some hurdles. They can’t seem to prescind themselves from PayPal, an inevitable reference in online payments and the biggest competitor in this sector.
The link between the two companies has existed since the foundation of WePay and is made all the stronger as Max Levchin, one of the co-founders of PayPal and later funders of WePay, has an intimate knowledge of PayPal’s business processes and technologies. His keen insight into possible area of improvement has been a great asset for WePay. He will likely contribute to the next goals of the company as according to Clerico, WePay is counting on the current "distraction" of PayPal towards other sectors to make a move.
“WePay is dedicated to helping small businesses accept payments online. While we’ll continue to compete with PayPal in this market, they’re making lots of moves in the mobile and brick-and-mortar retail space, so we expect less focus on online payments from them in the future, which presents WePay with great opportunity”.