WePay Targets PayPal Where It Hurts With Easy Payment Buttons

Startup WePay, which began as a way for groups of friends to pay for something together, but has since evolved to become a direct competitor to PayPal in the online payments space, today introduced new payment buttons. The buttons are designed to be implemented quickly and easily, with a simple cut-and-paste operation that should be simple enough for anyone who’s ever embedded a YouTube button. They also allow users to customize the payment window design, and include a payment workflow that means users never actually leave a website so that everything feels native and integrated directly into the online stores where the WePay button is implemented.

WePay also offers better pricing than its major rival, matching PayPal’s 2.9 percent plus $0.30 cents fee when a user pays by credit card, and decreasing that substantially to one percent plus $0.30 cents for transactions made from linked bank accounts. Variations on the basic “Pay Now” button also provide the ability to solicit donations, add things to and pay for an entire shopping cart, and register for events via WePay embeddable buttons.

“If you look at the competition, really the only competitor who has a comparable button is PayPal, and really PayPal doesn’t give the merchant a professional, branded simple solution,” WePay CEO Bill Clerico said in an interview, explaining why his company saw an opportunity with embeddable payment buttons. “The merchant doesn’t want to have to redirect the purchaser to PayPal, where PayPal tries to kind of trick them into paying with a PayPal balance or a bank transfer, all on this PayPal branded experience. That makes the merchant look small, look unprofessional and the customer isn’t happy because they’re being bounced around all over the place.”

Whereas PayPal has a vested interest in getting users to pay with methods other than credit cards, since it makes more on those transactions, WePay is instead hoping to offer a considerable adoption incentive to merchants by passing on savings from transactions that cost less to process, hence its two-tier pricing structure. That alone would likely be enough to sway a lot of small businesses, but offering an experience that also doesn’t navigate users away, and that can be customized via an online tool on the WePay website, is another major selling point. PayPal’s embeddable payment buttons have remained largely unchanged for years, with the exception maybe of the introduction of a mobile-specific payment portal, at least in terms of how it functions for users.

Really, PayPal’s last remaining strength when it comes to this market is the brand its managed to build over the years. Consumers are familiar with PayPal buttons and have used them many, many times. Despite growing success in recent years, WePay will be starting out with much less brand recognition, which could make for a steep hill to climb in an area as sensitive as online payments. But Clerico isn’t sure that PayPal’s recognizability is so much of an asset these days.

“PayPal certainly has a brand, but I’m not sure that’s necessarily a good thing anymore,” he said. “They really shifted their focus away from the small business owner, to now they’re out doing deals with Home Depot and McDonald’s and going after the big box retailers, and you can see that that’s the focus of their business, so I think that now their brand is being tarnished. And not only with small business owners but with consumers as well, since people are tired of being forced to pay with payment methods that they don’t want to pay with, they’re tired of the old clunky experience, they’re tired of poor customer service.”

Regardless of how PayPal’s brand appears in the eyes of businesses and users, WePay will still have an uphill battle driving adoption of these new payment buttons. But offering a two-minute, cut-and-paste embeddable tool where PayPal’s solution basically requires reading an entire technical manual to get started, as well as the other benefits mentioned above will definitely help WePay in its attempt to scale those heights.

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