Payments company WePay has raised $15 million in new funding, led long-time payments and bank executive Phil Purcell's Continental Investors, as it places more emphasis on working with third-party developers.

WePay will use the funds to aid its international expansion and the extension of the application programming interface (API) used by developers to build payments products. WePay was founded in 2008 in Boston.

Winning the support of Purcell, the former CEO of Morgan Stanley and the former CEO of Dean Witter and founder of the Discover card, is "great on a bunch of fronts," says Bill Clerico, CEO of WePay. "It's rare to find someone who's been CEO of a market leading payment company and CEO of a market leading financial services institution. I couldn't imagine a better investor for us."

Paul Purcell, Phil's son, will take a seat on WePay's board of directors; and Continental will take a stake in WePay. WePay and Paul Purcell did not disclose the size of the stake.

WePay will discontinue its original business of enabling group payments among individuals as the company focuses more on its API. The group payments concept will survive in some form as WePay also increases its focus as a payments provider for crowdfunding platforms such as GoFundMe and the Honeyfund honeymoon registry. "The API has been working for us, and we're doubling down on it," Clerico says.

WePay is planning to offer its API outside the U.S. to serve merchants and other partners who accept payments from international sources. "Most Web marketplaces have international ambitions, and payments is the largest barrier to that," Clerico says.

The company will use its range of services to work with banks and acquirers in local markets to ensure compliance with regulations, security standards and compatibility with local payment preferences, he says. WePay also provides other technology that enables invoice presentment for card not present payments, and offers its Veda security tool, which uses Facebook data to vet businesses.

"An international user will see a simple engagement point for all payments, so they won't have to worry about understanding something like fraud controls in different countries," Clerico says. WePay did not disclose its international roadmap, but it is likely to focus at first on countries with large English speaking populations, he says.

The growth of Web marketplaces suggest the payments market is moving toward groups of communities of small business people who offer their services among a community of similar providers, Clerico says.

Continental's Paul Purcell says the fund was attracted to WePay's strategy, which already includes marketplaces that used WePay's API to build payments acceptance, such CustomMade, a site that sells goods for local artisans; and, a portal for babysitter, pet care and other similar services.

"[The payments industry] makes the mistake of pigeonholing payments as opposed to commerce, and improving how goods and services are delivered to consumers. These kinds of improvements are going to be made in a marketplace of providers," says Paul Purcell in an interview. "WePay is part of that trend."

WePay's other investors include Max Levchin, founder and former CTO of PayPal, who early in 2013 launched Affirm, a payments startup. Affirm offers card processing services enabled by Stripe, which like WePay extends its technology to developers at other companies. Clinkle, a mobile payments startup that has yet to launch, has also generated buzz through the support of famous technology investors.


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