As commerce turns social, P-to-P tech steps in front of the payment
Group payments and peer transfers have become commoditized and aren't special anymore, according to Ari Daie.
"Once that happens those wonderful things aren't as wonderful anymore," said Daie, a former Goldman Sachs staffer who co-founded Live Analytics and TM Nexus, Ticketmaster's partner program. He's now the president, CEO and co-founder of Fevo, a New York-based startup that's designed to execute group sales and payments for sports and other events that require tickets. "What was unique isn't unique and you have to find something else."
The company, which recently received an undisclosed investment from KORE Software's sports and entertainment VC Fund, was founded in 2011 and has worked primarily in sports and concerts.
In the new year, it plans to add travel and hotel bookings to its mix to target travelers and vacationers, or trips tied to the festivals or events that it serves through its ticketing operation.
"People are seeing e-commerce as more experiential," Daie said. "Everyday brands are pressured to create experiences around their products."
Fevo partners with ticketing websites such as Ticketmaster, Tickets.com and Axs.com, using its software to power a "go with friends" button to the ticketing sites. This allows users to buy tickets separately while being seated together.
P-to-P services have long been pitched as a way to split expenses such as rent or a lunch check. The difference for Fevo is it operates as a "pre-transaction" engine rather than a post-transaction means of splitting payments. Rather then send requests to split a bill that has already been paid, Fevo splits the actual transaction, he said.
"The internet doesn't make it easy to get together and go to a baseball game or a concert or a festival," Daie said. "One person has to email another or send a text to ask about availability. And then you get a commitment from someone, or someone drops out."
Fevo integrates with its partners' inventory management systems, and replaces the older ticketing transaction flow, which was based on a single buyer. Fevo instead uses its technology and social tools to create separate flows for individuals in a larger group who can connect with other members of the group to discuss the event. The payments happen separately, and the inventory management link ensures people are sitting together at the venue.
"The buyer can convert what was a solitary purchase into a social event," said Tim Sloane, director of the emerging technologies advisory service at Mercator, adding the ticket agent has the opportunity to convert a single purchase into multiple purchases. "In reality the payment capability is likely the easiest part of this solution. It is likely more difficult to keep assigned seating contiguous as the number of ticket buyers changes over time."
Fevo recently signed agreements with Bonnaroo, Electric Forest and Voodoo Festival and works with the NBA, NFL, NHL and Major League Baseball. Travel is a natural progression to expand the payment needs beyond the tickets, Daie said.
As P-to-P transfer apps such as Venmo and Zelle take off, targeted social payment apps have started to hit the market.
Bursari allows school systems and parents to connect and digitize payments for school events and supplies—combining information about the expense, social communication and a payments function.
And Airbnb in November launched a service that allows groups to divide the cost of a vacation through a single portal. An organizer holds the reservation while others in the group contribute.
Most companies in the P-to-P space have marketed their services in a broader way, said Talie Baker, a senior analyst at Aite Group.
"Venmo is venturing into the merchant payments space and the goal of PayPal is to have Venmo accepted everywhere PayPal is accepted — I assume we will see other services follow in a similar way," Baker said.