Apple Pay and Android Pay may be best known as Apple and Google’s mobile wallets, designed to expand their businesses in making payments with smartphones. But today comes an advance that underscores how both are also vying to be consumers’ virtual wallets for all e-commerce transactions.
WePay, the payments company that competes against the likes of incumbents like FirstData and Global Payments, as well as younger tech companies like PayPal and Stripe, to help businesses take online payments — an example of one of its customers is the crowdfunding platform GoFundMe — today announced that it is expanding acceptance of both Apple Pay and Android Pay to the web.
The news comes as both Google and Apple are hoping to drive much more adoption and usage of their respective wallets across all platforms. In January, Apple CEO Tim Cook noted that Apple Pay transactions had grown 500% in the last year, with “billions” of dollars in transactions and user numbers tripling (one report from April 2016 noted Apple Pay had 12 million users).
Apple also said in January that some 2 million small businesses were already taking Apple Pay payments on the web and that it was gearing up to add larger companies like Comcast. This points to both how the company is touting its growth, but also the attention that it’s giving to growing Apple Pay specifically on the web.
For its part, Google hasn’t released recent Android Pay usage stats, but a recent survey from Boston Retail Partners notes that it comes in fourth behind Apple Pay, PayPal and MasterCard’s PayPass in terms of merchant acceptance in the U.S..
That is where WePay comes in: the startup works as a conduit to working with thousands of businesses online and millions of end users by acting as the processing back-end for companies like Constant Contact, FreshBooks, GoFundMe, Meetup and Zoho, in total processing billions of dollars in payments annually as well as providing compliance and risk-reduction services.
In other words, integrations like this one with WePay are essential for both Apple Pay and Android Pay to help them gain more critical mass for their wallets.
The startup — launched in 2010 and a 2009 alum of Y Combinator — was an early partner of Google’s for expanding its payment efforts beyond its direct services, and also worked early on with Apple Pay. But both of those were focused on making payments on the mobile web and within mobile apps.
While this was a step ahead, this was only part of the opportunity, because even though companies like PayPal have made a big point of talking about mobile commerce is blowing up, at the end of the day, it’s still around one-third (and often less for some companies) of what’s being paid for and processed via PCs and the non-mobile internet.
“I’m not too excited about in-app check-out for Apple Pay and Android Pay,” said Bill Clerico, the CEO and co-founder of WePay. “The use cases are not that common because, for example, you put your card number into Uber once and never have to use it again.”
The promise of wallets for consumers has up to now been that they provide a faster and more secure way to make e-commerce transactions, since you do not have to enter card or other payment information multiple times. The same goes for integrating wallets into WePay’s services, said Clerico.
“For small businesses, for example, they email their invoices to customers using invoicing platforms, but it results in a terrible experience when those invoices have to be paid. That is where something like Apple Pay is really powerful.” However, as with all of WePay’s services and integrations, its users have to turn on one feature or another via its API to enable it to appear: Apple Pay and Android Pay will not appear automatically or by default.
WePay has to date raised just over $74 million in funding from a long list of investors that includes PayPal co-founder Max Levchin and Maynard Webb, the ex-eBay exec who is now chairman of Yahoo and on the board of Visa.
Clerico acknowledges that for a fintech company out of San Francisco that has been around for 8 years, the amount it has raised is low. What’s also somewhat novel is that the company has no plans to raise more but is looking to expand beyond its current markets of the U.S., Canada and UK.
“We’re pretty capital efficient and were profitable when we raised our last round [$40 million in 2015],” he said. “We are not a high burn business and are running close to break even.” The company expects to cross 200 employees this month, he said.