WePay: The PayPal Payment System for Groups

If you’re raising funds for any kind of real-life group, event or project, you might already know that it isn’t easy to manually manage and track funds with PayPal and other similar web-based payments providers, let alone allow members to view financial details. If that’s the sort of feature set you’re looking for, WePay might be what you’re looking for.

Any number of my colleagues have complained that PayPal was a difficult way to collect and track multi-sourced funds. For example, my wife is a film producer and managed to leverage Facebook, blogs and word of mouth to raising financial interest in an indie film that she’s working on. However, when it came to actually collecting funds, the director’s husband had to integrate PayPal and track what came in that way. Unfortunately, there are no fine-grain controls in PayPal that lets multiple people access the project’s financial details, remind people who haven’t contributed, see a balance, and more.

For groups who need these sorts of extra control over funds, or even want group members to have access to various financial details, WePay is a new group-based payments system that could be a boon to anyone collecting funds from multiple people. Here’s a quick list of just some of the features:

  • Allowance for multiple WePay accounts per person. PayPal allows one personal and one business account.
  • Create a group. You can bulk-import email addresses from GMail, or enter one person at a time, or paste in a list of email addresses. Collection amounts can be the same for everyone, or individualized — which is useful if people are pledging different amounts.
  • Disband a group.
  • Bill members. When you create a group, you have to select a method of payment, which determines the fee that WePay charges. Payment via bank account only incurs a US$0.50 charge. For the broader option of “bank account, credit card or debit card”, transactions will incur a 3.5% fee. Fees are added to each transaction amount, not subtracted. (Obviously, if you have a large group and are collecting a small amount, you probably want to go for the percentage-based fee.)
  • Pay members.
  • Allow members to view various group financial details, including member contact info, transactions, member activity, account balance and more.
  • Withdrawal to one or more bank accounts.

The real value in WePay will come when they offer an API (I saw no evidence of any), and can be integrated with Facebook or other web or mobile applications. In fact, something like this is ideally suited to Facebook Group or Fan Pages, and might be something that non-profits (or indie filmmakers) can leverage for fund-raising. In that respect, PayPal still has the advantage, but in the Facebook generation, there’s a definite chance the WePay really will be a threat to the current web payments champion.

Is WePay something you might use to raise group funds? If you’ve had to do this, what solutions have you used?

[Other sources: Venture Beat]