Can big banks be nimble of foot when it comes to FinTech? One giant — JPMorgan Chase & Co. — is taking some definitive steps on that stage.
JPMorgan announced today (Oct. 17) it is acquiring payments platform WePay. The combination will create an ecosystem of platform developers and small businesses, powered by WePay’s ability to integrate payments functionality into software and fueled by Chase’s global reach, small business product portfolio and network of 4 million small businesses.
WePay was founded in 2008 to make it easier for software platforms to integrate payments into their offerings. The payment platform counts GoFundMe, Infusionsoft and Constant Contact as clients.
The acquisition by Chase underscores the pain point that exists when business productivity apps, software platforms and independent software vendors (ISVs) want to integrate payments functionality within their solutions — and the opportunity that can be unlocked when such friction is removed.
In an interview with PYMNTS’ Karen Webster, WePay co-founder and CEO Bill Clerico said the combination of WePay and Chase will “serve small businesses even better.”
Clerico told Webster that integrated and customizable payments solutions have been gaining steam. Developers are seeking to instantly embed payments inside their organizations, and without the risk and compliance issues often associated with the standard model of payments acceptance. In fact, WePay’s use of the PayFac model to eliminate friction from merchant onboarding is explained in a series of interviews with the company’s co-founder, Rich Aberman.
Chase Commerce Solutions CEO Matt Kane told Webster that the acquisition will offer platform developers the chance to go beyond embedding payments inside their own platforms, allowing them to grow their businesses using Chase and its network of 4 million small businesses — a new distribution arm for their services.
“What if [Chase] could refer the software provider [to our network]?” asked Kane. “That’s unique.”
Clerico said he views Chase’s brick-and-mortar presence as an important “springboard” for making that possible.
“You can see, in the future, a world where we have a number of software products and software partnerships on one side and a number of small business customers on the other side, and a marketplace, if you will, that helps match firms to the software that will best help them,” Clerico said
Kane acknowledged additional plans to take WePay’s current focus and use case for instant onboarding and apply it beyond payments, employing it in the broader portfolio of small business banking services in the long-term.
Post acquisition, Kane explained Chase will keep WePay as a standalone company, making sure it helps WePay “maintain their developer identity” while also leveraging Chase assets — including “wrapping” WePay’s technology around Chase’s cybersecurity capabilities.
WePay and the firm’s staff will serve as JPMorgan’s Silicon Valley payments innovation incubator. Its short-term plans include doubling the size of the team in the next year, with every existing employee staying on.
“WePay is going to feel like the best-funded FinTech in the Valley — overnight,” said Kane.