WePay, the group payment company, launches threat to PayPal

WePay, a startup that helps groups of people collaboratively manage financial accounts — for example, to run student organizations or raise funds for charity — is expected to publicly launch tomorrow.

VentureBeat reported last year that the company had pulled in $1.65 million in a first round of venture funding from August Capital and several angels. So far, the company has been in private beta testing.

The WePay platform can be used by any group of people wanting to jointly access a pool of capital and lets the group create accounts, produce invoices, collect money, manage transactions and make easily-monitored payments.

In an interview, co-founders Bill Clerico and Rich Alberman told me they see signs that WePay is “cannibalizing” PayPal users, something they hadn’t expected initially. With WePay, users are able to separate their payment activities into multiple accounts in ways that PayPal doesn’t allow, and also simplifies things considerably. With PayPal, you can’t create more than one personal account. And if you create a business account, you need to tie the account to a tax ID when you go over a certain threshold. With WePay, by contrast, you can create accounts for a charity, for a softball team, for a trip to Las Vegas with your friends, for a fraternity — and make them all accessible from a single login. You can also give group members different levels of access to accounts so that, for example, if you are the creator of the group account, others aren’t able to see financial information under your main personal account.

The pair developed the company initially through the Y Combinator startup incubator program. That’s where August Capital partner David Hornick met them. Hornick had also invested in PayCycle and Bill.com, and so with WePay he has continued to place bets on payment companies. Hornick also introduced the WePay co-founders to Eric Dunn, former CFO at Intuit (now back at Intuit as the head of their payments group), who also invested alongside Hornick. Other investors include Max Levchin (PayPal co-founder), Mark Goines (also of Intuit), Steve Chen (YouTube co-founder and early PayPal employee), Dave McClure (another PayPal employee) and angel investor Ron Conway.

WePay skims small fees off every transaction, and offers a WePay debit card.


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