WePay, an online payments company begun in 2008, is branching out into the ticketing business.
With the launch of its new WePay Tickets product, anyone can get online and within minutes start selling tickets to their event. The basic version of WePay Tickets provides users with an event page where they advertise their events, obtain identifying information from payers, and collect ticket costs. WePay’s payment platform is integrated into this page, and allows for easy collection of funds into a WePay account. This account is accessible by all organizers involved with the event, promoting transparency of operation and accountability among all organizers. Funds collected may be withdrawn through the use of paper checks, electronic withdrawal, or the use of a WePay debit card. Those wishing to obtain more detailed information from ticket purchasers may customize their forms with the next tier of the product, WePay Tickets Pro.
“Our simple mission is to make it easy for people to collect money online,” WePay founder and COO Rich Aberman told TicketNews. “We have a payment platform that makes it easy to collect money online, tools that enable you to collect money the way that you would like to collect money.” And now with WePay Tickets, “anybody can be up and running, selling tickets to their event, with no existing Web site, no merchant account. It’s a one stop integrated shop.”
Sellers pay a 3.5 percent transaction fee per ticket, which they may either add on to the cost of each ticket or absorb with each transaction. WePay Tickets Pro requires a 6 percent fee plus $0.99 per transaction. “I can say pretty confidently we’re the lowest priced solution out there,” says Aberman. “It goes back to our payments roots. Payment companies are not charging 7 or 8 percent per transaction.”
Aberman notes that most people who would like to sell tickets for an event, such as a fundraiser or a class reunion, have faced frustrations with online set up in the past, having to combine an event management piece found in one place with payment operations from another source. With WePay’s new product, all operations are integrated, allowing users to sign up and start selling for their event immediately.
Aberman describes the evolution of the WePay Tickets product: “We’ve had a simple ticketing feature for a while. What we found was that would mean different things to different people. Some were looking for donations, some were requesting money from friends. And a healthy percentage of people wanted to sell tickets to an event…they wanted location, time, a way to invite friends on Facebook or Twitter, specific info from attendees on tee shirt size, or preference for dinner.”
In terms of other players in the ticketing space, Aberman views the consumer-focused event ticketing company Eventbrite as WePay Tickets’ primary competition, as opposed to a larger ticketing interest like Ticketmaster. Eventbrite has a bit of a head start in this type of ticketing space, and has raised millions in venture funding and added an impressive list of people to its board.
But, Aberman is not deterred by the challenge, in part because he knows there is a vast market of people looking to sell tickets. “Most of the people selling tickets through our service are not event promoters or venues. They are normal consumers who’ve found out that they have to sell tickets to the Boy Scout Jamboree. These people want to sell their events, but they want to sell their events to their social circles, which is why Facebook or Twitter is relevant. We are very, very focused on empowering people to spread the word.”
In addition, Aberman stresses that the target audiences for WePay Tickets and Eventbrite come from different populations: “[Eventbrite’s] product is increasingly geared toward the larger and more sophisticated user, like professional event organizers. I think that their product increasingly requires a degree of sophistication that normal people don’t have.” Aberman also asserts that Eventbrite and similar sites are primarily ticketing services that add on a payment product, while his company’s expertise in payment integration makes for a smoother transactional experience for all.
The COO has big hopes for this new venture, where he sees endless possibilities for growth. “We think the [market is] massive. Our market is people who want to collect money online, which is laughably hard to measure. The ticketing market is easily a billion-dollar market, not counting the customers that Ticketmaster is going after. A huge number of people are local event organizers.”
For now, WePay Tickets will focus on serving those local event organizers, helping them to manage and fund their own events. But movement into the secondary market for work on larger events is not out of the question. “Cost is a factor for business owners,” says Aberman. “As our business grows, we’ll begin to talk seriously with the secondary market and ticket brokers.”